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Rye Harbour

Highlights over the last few days have included several spring firsts including Sandwich tern on the 11th, swallow on the 16th and yesterday wheatear on the Beach Reserve and a (weakly) booming bittern from the viewpoint. Apart from these, yesterday also saw the the three twite still present on Flat Beach (though it will soon be time for them to move to their breeding grounds in the Pennines), while at Castle Water a spoonbill was seen from the hide and barn owl, two marsh harrier and four bearded tit were seen from the viewpoint.  

Update: Phil Jones and Linda Wren saw a yellow-legged gull on a marker post in the River Rother today (18th), along with a ruff on Salt Pool, 17 Sandwich tern and around 50 avocet!


From the Clifftop

Truly horrendous weather today-fierce winds, heavy rain and the temperature dropping to 4C in the afternoon-Climate Chaos !

I don't really expect to see any spring  passage during such strong winds, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a Brent Goose movement going on-I counted 570 heading east in 2.75 hrs. No other wildfowl, but 100 Gannets W and 23 E, all but one adult or near adult, 16 auks, 4 Kittiwakes and 13 Fulmars  W also. Just one RT Diver.

Later in the morning I wen t down to the seafront, difficult to stand at times, but a lot of Gulls were sheltering on Swan Lake. These included a pair of GBBG's , one of which was 99C [see below], a smart graelsii Lesser Black-back and an adult Herring Gull bearing orange ring G7M1 -not sure if the last was 1 or I- reading this in a strong wind was like trying to read one line too far in an eye-test. Something to follow up.


Spring is sprung

Despite Andy Phillips recent bee bonanza it has been very quiet insect-wise at Rye Harbour. A search for bees at the northern end of Castle Water recently was unsuccessful, though I did find this common bee fly basking in the sun. This individual is recently emerged (the clue is the milky wings) but you can still make out the solid dark area at the front of the wings and the fact that there are no spots (distinguishing it from dotted bee fly). Bee flies are nest parasites of various solitary bees so it shouldn't be long before we start seeing some of their hosts appear. 


Ringed Great-black backed Gulls in Hastings

 A couple of interesting colour ringed GBBG's have been tracked down in Hastings recently. The first, Blue 99c was spotted by Andrew Grace on the boating lake on Jan 18th, Andrew followed this up and discovered it was ringed as a chick [poussin] at Le Havre on June 24 2008. It was then sighted regularly in northern France, until being seen at Hastings in Sept 2015, with three more sightings there before Andrew spotted it. His pictures on his blog show that it is one of a pair, I had seen these too and wondered if they were the pair-one of few in Sussex-which have nested on a roof in Torfield annually since 2014. Looking at my photos, mostly intended to show the sturdy juvs, over several years, I saw that one of the adults did indeed bear a ring similar to the one pictured this year, though I can't see the number. I hope to confirm this summer.


On Feb 19, again at the boating lake, there was a different ringed bird, yellow 6AA8; after contacting a chain of ringers I discovered that this one was ringed as a chick on Guernsey on June 17 2014, was next sighted in Devon in Sept 2015, where it remained till at least Sept 2018, being next seen by me in Hastings this year.


From the Clifftop

A  rough morning, strong winds and rain lashing the windows. Despite this. signs of the start of the spring Common Scoter passage, 4 parties totalling 23 east, all males. Also 2 skeins of Brent Geese totalling 105 east, 33 Gannets, 3 Razorbills and one Med Gull. These by 0910 when rain closed in.