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Rye raptor encounters

A showy pair of Stonechats kicked off our Sussex Guided Bird Walk with Hector and Nigel as we headed out to the reserve at Rye Harbour. On the other side of the track, a Rock Pipit flew into a small channel on the saltmarsh.

Male Stonechat at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Male Stonechat

The New Saltmarsh held a large flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, with a pleasing number of yearlings evident by their white-barred upperparts, which had a Shelduck tagging along.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese

We were soon distracted by a juvenile Peregrine Falcon diving at a Lapwing. We didn't consider the bird to have any real chance of catching its quarry but to our shock it took it out on one of its half-hearted attempts.


As we passed the Discovery Centre, we stopped to watch a couple of Pied Wagtails hanging around on the edge of the roof.

Pied Wagtail at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Pied Wagtail

The Flat Beach was full of wildfowl with good numbers of Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Pintail. The Peregrine Falcon could be seen tucking into its meal on the bank and a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk paused on a small mound in front of the hide for a few moments before continuing its circuit. Several Little Egrets were fishing in the shallows and a flock of Skylarks flew past.

Adult male Sparrowhawk at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Adult male Sparrowhawk

Looking towards Camber Sands we saw plenty of Oystercatchers scattered among the loafing Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls. A scan out to sea a bit further on revealed an adult Gannet over the distant horizon.


The Ternery Pool featured several Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks a look from the other side of the Flat Beach revealed a Great Crested Grebe, our first Redshank of the morning and good views of Pintail and Gadwall.

Little Grebe at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Little Grebe

As we completed the final third of our circuit we enjoyed good views of several Reed Buntings and Skylarks, as well as another appearance from the young Peregrine Falcon, which was tussling with a couple of Carrion Crows.

Skylark at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Skylark

The reserve's currently-resident Spoonbill was slumbering on the Salt Pool and treated us to a minute or so of seeing it wake up, preen and have a stretch, before it tucked its head back in and nodded off once again!

Spoonbill at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Sussex guided bird walks with Wildstarts.
Spoonbill

We enjoyed a few more Redshanks in the channels and pools by the path as well as a lovely flock of Starlings and a couple of Meadow Pipits but we still hadn't had good views of Curlew. A final scan of the New Saltmarsh before we headed back to the car park came good with lovely views of three Curlew out on the mud, a fitting end to an eventful Sussex Guided Bird Walk!

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