Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2024 | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2024

Thursday, 1st February 2024

Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2024
Castle Water wetland © Barry Yates

By David Bentley

Volunteer, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

My favourite wetland at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, today at least, is the north end of Castle Water (the end closest to Rye town). It's often overlooked by visitors. I see people power-walk past, minds set on the comfort of the nearby Halpin Hide. But I'd encourage them to linger.

It's a rather exposed spot and can be very windy; the birds can be distant and often seen only in challenging light. That may not be the most glowing reference, but I've found that with patience, this can be a wonderful place to wait for and watch wildlife.

Castle Water
Castle Water at sunset © Neil Fletcher

Here, I've had my best views of Slavonian Grebe, Great White Egret, displaying Marsh Harrier, Jack Snipe, Little Gull, Black Tern, Bearded Tit and more. It's a top spot to look for migrant Wheatear and Whinchat. In winter you've a decent chance of seeing a Bittern. I've seen flocks of Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit and White Stork drop out of the sky, just for me, with no other witnesses.

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier © Barry Cook

In spring Sedge Warblers dance above the reeds. In autumn, Swifts and Hirundine swarm close to the water, reminiscent of the insects they hunt. I might treat myself and lie down in the colony of Pyramidal Orchid, then stroll through the nearby Marsh Mallow 'forest'.

Pyramidal orchid
Pyramidal orchid at Castle Water © Barry Yates

It's the closest bit of wetland on the reserve to Rye, yet it's one of the least visited, which I find odd. On a warm day I can spend hours here, feeling a bit like the king of the castle.

This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

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