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Rye filling up with birds

We were greeted by a fly-over Marsh Harrier as we met Andrew and Ellie at Rye Harbour for a Sussex Guided Bird Walk recently, before encountering a busy scene on the New Saltmarsh. Beyond a grazing herd of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, soon bound for the Siberian tundra, were a mix of Curlew, Redshanks, Avocets and Shelducks feeding in the channels, along with a lone Turnstone. Looking towards the beach, a flock of around 100 Golden Plovers whirled around high in the sky.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese
Curlew at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Curlew

A Skylark breaking into song seemed optimistic, but it was the first of many as we entered the Gooders Hide, where we added a range of wildfowl, including dapper Pintail and Gadwall and the equally fine Teal and Wigeon flocks. We trained the telescope on a mixed group of Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Dunlin, neither of which would breed locally this summer, with long migrations ahead of them.

Golden Plover at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Golden Plover flock

Turnstone at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Turnstone

The Ringed Plovers, however, were setting up shop for the breeding season with their energetic display flights, while the Redshanks and Avocets will also be nesting here. It was a good chance to watch these species’ different feeding actions, with the former either picking from the surface of probing a little into the mud, and the latter swishing their bill from side to side in the water. Another wader — a Snipe — dashed past the hide and dived into cover immediately upon landing.

Avocet at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Avocet

Redshank at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Redshank

A Little Egret flew along the river and we enjoyed spectacular views of more Skylarks as we headed to the sheltered side of the pillbox to scan Camber Sands. There, several Sanderling were running along the shoreline in typically energetic fashion. There was little offshore, however, aside from a Great Crested Grebe.

Skylark at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Skylark

The Ternery Pool was busy with roosting Oystercatchers and Cormorants, and we enjoyed watching a Little Grebe fishing. A few Tufted Ducks were joined by a female Pochard and a small group of Snipe did exactly what the single bird earlier did — vanish quickly! Three Sandwich Terns, newly-arrived for the spring, flew through, and several Shovelers were visible at the back of the pool.

Little Grebe at Rye Harbour. Private guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Little Grebe

After having another look over the Flat Beach, where a female Red-breasted Merganser made an infuriatingly brief appearance, we took the track towards the caravan site. Despite the wind, we enjoyed Stonechats, Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits along the fence line and spotted a group of four Little Grebes on the Salt Pool, where a big group of Wigeon were feeding the grass. A Mediterranean Gull performed a nice fly-past for us too!


The weather may have been a little on the dull side but the birding was excellent!

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