Rye Harbour Field Trip

Ten of us met at an overcast Rye but thankfully dry. One expected with the hide tide at 3.30pm and with all the rain we had recently that the reserve would show signs of flooding but it is easy to forget that nature has a wonderful sense of healing itself and adapting to the circumstances it finds its self in, so has we approached the visitor centre there was very little water about, in some case the channel that criss cross themselves across the flood plains were dry and as a result there was a scarity of birdlife and unusual for this busy and tranquil place a lack of visitors and their dogs.

A couple of shell ducks immediately stood out their white and brown colours stood out from mainly grey birds/ducks that included a curlew, redshanks, teal, pintails, shovelers’, oyster catchers, cormorants and gadwall,. In the first hide a couple of redshanks here close by and skylarks could be heard but not seen. Upon exiting the hide some of us saw a  spoonbill fly in and take  up residence next to a little egret which is smaller in size and feeds in a totally different manner than the spoonbill which is if you have not seen one feeding is a treat. Three of the group who had marched off had to be called back to view it as you do not see them on a regular bases as most tend to leave our shores around may and very very few breed in the UK, mainly in East Anglia.

The tide was still well but the exit to the harbour entrance was closed off for maintenance work, a huge task of shoring up the reserves walls was underway a sign that recent high tides had done their damage and as most of us are aware unless something drastically changes places such as Rye Harbour and Romney marshes will have to give way to the raising sea levels.

So we ventured over the shingle to see what could be seen on the distant sands and were rewarded with views of black headed and herring gulls, many ring plovers, the odd curlew, what we though were dunlins (but too far for even the scopes to identify, oyster catchers and redshank made up the remainder of the birds on show. Sadly no seals were seen but the high tide was in fact going to be a low high tide! And they are usually seen when the sea levels are more prominent.

No magic short eared owl appeared as per our last visit here (I was asked if I had ordered one and explained that might well have been a one in a lifetime event but we can only dream. In the two hides either side of the track we saw the occasional lapwing wondering where they has all gone, more pintails, shell ducks, a lot more cormorants, a single ringed plover on its own island, one wondered if it had it no friends. Skylarks could be seen on the scrapes and a marsh harrier came out of nowhere and was seen landing away from the hide. The light was not good enough to confirm it had caught its prey or not. Initially I though it was a hen harries but later investigation said not.

Some of the group continued around the back the reserve and saw a number of male and female stonechats, meadow pipits, tufted ducks which when your still full of a cold can cause the group some amusement when struggling to pronounce such normal easy words . In the last hide we saw all the skylarks who were sheltering amongst the vegetation on the scrapes and occasionally they would fly off in an alarmed manner but all the other birdlife seemed unconcerned.

We trekked about five  miles, saw approximately 36 different species and five of use had a hot drink in the visitor centre to finish off what was a lovely day and again one has to report what a lovey crowd of people we have in this group.

A footnote in that one of the volunteers’ explained that over 400 pintails were on the reserve that largest ever seen here.