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A special thanks to Sussex Wildlife TrustFriends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and Flag Ecology for their contribution to the funding of the new RX-wildlife website.

Website design and maintenance by Andy Phillips.

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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.


East Guldeford Levels

A lovely frosty morning yesterday , no wind , perfect for my usual East Guldeford Levels circuit. A lot more standing water than previously but no great numbers of either Golden Plovers or Lapwings-about 100 of both. 2 Egyptian Geese appear to be resident now. As usual at least 2 Buzzards; the usual farmland birds totalled 40 Skylarks, 16 Tree Sparrows but just one pair of Corn Buntings [pictured]. A walk round all the big stubble fields produced a lone Lapland Bunting-these could almost  be described as "usual farmland birds  here this winter. At least 3 Stonechats and 15 Fieldfares.

Great to receive  "The Flora of Sussex" by the Sussex Botanical Recording Society yesterday- a marvellous tome celebrating vast amounts of volunteer effort, including a little bit by me at EGL !