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So many birds !


A lovely bright but chilly day yesterday for our regular Slow but Sure walk from Cliff End to Dogs Hill via Rye Harbour, A modest species total of 82 , but the walk was notable for the constant bird spectacle  

At Pett Level , great flocks of Golden Plovers-around 1500-and Lapwings were constantly in the air, together with 20 Ruff including the regular white-headed bird, 100 Dunlin and a fine flock of 17 Snipe charging round the roadside pool. The Great White Egret was very conspicuous on the eastern pool. A calling adult Med Gull was our first for the spring.

Lots more birds at the reserve-plenty of wildfowl including 20 Pintail on Flat Beach, and 12 Brents on the new saltmarsh, flocks of Golden Plovers and Lapwings again,  hundreds of Cormorants flew into Castle Water ,where a pair of Buzzards posed well in front of the hide. We also noted a good total of 7 Stonechats on the reserve, finishing with good views of 5 Redwings in the wood.


Rye Harbour Small Fish Survey

Last year was the 5th year of small fish surveys conducted by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority to try and understand the food supplies of our breeding seabirds and also the commercial fish stocks. The fieldwork was assisted by 10 organisations including the Environment Agency, Natural England and Sussex Wildlife Trust.

The Key Findings were: 

  • There was a total of 23 fish species and a total abundance of 501. 
  • Solenette was the most abundant species (28% of total abundance), followed by plaice (21%) and herring (17%). 
  • The average Simpson’s index of diversity was 0.836. The index is a scale of 0 to 1, where 0 represents no diversity and 1 indicates infinite diversity. 
  • One species was new to this survey; smooth hound. 
  • There was a wide diversity of conspicuous non-fish species. 
  • In 2017, Sandwich terns had more fledglings per pair than in 2016, 2014 or 2013 but less than in 2015. 
  • Common terns had more fledglings per pair than in 2016, 2015 and 2013, but less than in 2014. 
  • Little terns had more fledglings per pair than in 2016, 2014 or 2013, but less than in 2015. 
  • The surveys involved 22 people from 10 organisations.

  The 2017 report for Rye Bay and other sites can be found by clicking here.



Over the last few days I've actually had a few invertebrate records (live ones, not pickled in alcohol) to drive away the winter cheer, including a black clock at Lime Kiln Cottage (it's a type of ground beetle) and buff-tailed bumblebee on Harbour. The best record though was of a big female Steatoda grossa, one of the false widows, at Lime Kiln Cottage last Thursday. While not as notorious as THE false widow, Steatoda nobilis, this is generally a far more sinister looking spider, even to someone who really, really likes spiders and as with it's relative it can also be a bit 'bitey'. I was surprised to find that this was the first record for the reserve and even more of a surprise, Graeme Lyons, the ecologist for the trust , tells me it is the first time it has been recorded on any SWT reserve!


Rye Harbour

Highlights yesterday on the monthly Wetland Bird Survey at Rye Harbour were the long-staying red-breasted merganser (this time on the pool south of Harbour Farm Barns), three goldeneye on Long Pit, four ruff at the western end of Harbour Farm and a fine display of birds on Flat Beach, including at least 550 golden plover, 68 grey plover, 67 dunlin and 61 sanderling, as well as smaller numbers of pintail, ringed plover and turnstone.

At dusk a visit to the viewpoint at Castle Water turned up at least three marsh harrier (adult male and female and immature male) which came in to roost in the reedbed and calling water rail, while Cliff Dean (who was just leaving as I turned up!) reported at least four great white egret, barn owl and fieldfare.


Spring on the clifftop ?

 A couple of lovely sunny days prompted thoughts, no doubt premature, of spring. A pair of Ravens and a Peregrine have  been on view both mornings, and Yellowhammers are singing at the Firehills.[ Also the first sighting of a scrawny youth stripped to the waist on the seafront ]. Early morning movements of Cormorants continue, 430 W on Saturday, and 90 yesterday, though divers appear to be decreasing.

With an overcast night last night, the moth trap finally got going, with Chestnut, Clouded Drab and Common Quaker this morning.