Rye Harbour July 2019


Our coffee stop at Scotney Castle was followed by a stop/start journey down the infamous A21 before we could escape and head East towards Rye and eventually Rye Harbour - a misnomer because the actual harbour is in Rye town and this is a separate area down by the beach way out of town. The midsummer sun was high in the sky, so with hats on and sun cream "slathered", we headed towards the first of three hides. Rye Harbour Reserve is a very distinct habitat - mostly shingle beach and pools, attracting summer visiting terns, gulls and waders. A colony of delightful, chattering little terns nests every summer - a rare occurrence around our coast and we managed to see a couple in flight. Its bill is a distinctive yellow with a black tip. They have mostly fledged by now and will shortly head back to sea and ultimately Africa. They are currently on the Amber list of endangered species in Europe - due to the shortage of suitable nesting sites. So we are lucky to see them relatively close to home.

Much more in evidence were the noisy common tern - with their brilliant red beaks tipped with black and an elegant flight - only managing to look the least bit clumsy as they waddled on very short red legs. Their screeching calls and fast flight were a fantastic sight as they squabbled over territory and wrestled with the effort of feeding huge, fluffy, demanding chicks. Black headed gulls were everywhere, co habiting with the terns, and adding to the general cacophony. Rows of thuggish cormorants loomed threateningly on pebble banks like a gang on guard. Several sandwich tern swooped over - these are the largest of the terns and have a punk-like black crest and a black bill with a yellow tip, and again - very short stubby legs.

Several brilliant white little egrets stalked around the pools darting for fish, where redshank and ringed plover loitered. We were surprised to spot a lone avocet resting by the water's edge as a marsh harrier bypassed above us.



Away from the bird colonies, Rye Harbour is a haven of peace, soaring skylarks and the buzz of bees the only sounds in the warm, sunny air. Several skylarks perched helpfully on the fencing, giving us great close up views. Rye is a botanist's paradise and along the pathways we spotted viper's bugloss, yellow horned poppy, sea cabbage, flowering stonecrop, centaury, agrimony, black mustard and a fabulous clump of brilliant pink pyramidal orchids. Bliss.Birds spotted...avocet, blackbird, cormorant, crow, mallard, little egret, goldfinch, black headed gull, herring gull, great black backed gull, lesser black backed gull, marsh harrier, linnet, magpie, meadow pipit, ringed plover, little ringed plover, redshank, common sandpiper, shelduck, skylark, sparrow, swallow, mute swan, pied wagtail, wood pigeon, moorhen, heron, little tern, common tern, sandwich tern (31 species)

After three hours of wandering "away from it all", we were ready to eat, so enjoyed a relaxing meal in the garden of the Beefeater near Pett Levels before heading home, without any hold ups this time, via Hastings and up along the A21.