By Paul Tinsley-Marshall
Site Manager, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Another relatively quiet month, with cold and wet weather likely accounting for a paucity of records. Large areas of open water were frozen over for periods. Ducks again provided much of the interest, including another record count of Pintail (450) on Flat Beach. Until December 2023 the highest count had been â‰ˆ25, so this is exceptional. There was also a record count of Gadwall (475) and good counts of Shoveler (310) on Castle Water, and a pair of Goldeneye on Barn Pools. A single Red-breasted Merganser was present on Flat Beach for the early part of the month. Two flocks of Brent Goose were present in the early part of the month, one of â‰ˆ30 long-staying birds, and another of â‰ˆ40 recently arrived birds directly in front of the Discovery Centre afforded excellent viewing to within 10 metres. The Spoonbill was still present throughout on Flat Beach, Salt Pool and the new Saltmarsh. Golden Plover (200) were on Salt Pool with much activity reported overhead, though larger flocks are seeming to favour other local sites at present. A single Avocet mostly on Ternery Pool was probably a migrant rather than a returning breeder, a Spotted Redshank was in front of Crittall hide, and occasional Snipe were disturbed.
On the 28th a group of Ruff (18) were observed at Barn Pools. There were some exceptional views of Water Rail both from Halpin Hide and crossing Nook Road. Rock Pipit (3) were noted throughout the month, several pairs of Stonechat continue to be spotted both on Rye Harbour Farm and Castle Farm, Redwing and Fieldfare maintained a presence and a Mistle Thrush was singing at Watch Cottage towards the end of the month. The Dartford Warber reappeared at Cuckoo Corner, though has likely been present continuously, skulking out of sight in light of the cold. A Firecrest was noted on Front Ridge, a Chiffchaff and a singing Great Tit at Watch Cottage, and a pair of Raven were showing interest in Camber Castle.
Badgers were seen on at least two occasions on Nook Road and at Watch Cottage, and a bat, presumed a Pipistrelle spp. was on the wing at Watch Cottage on the 29th. Few invertebrates were reported, though Buff-tailed Bumblebee queens and workers were reported, and moths were certainly seen on the wing on warmer evenings. Common Gorse was one of the few flowers to be found, along with Common Daisy.
Thanks go to all the observers whose observations contribute to the monthly sighting reports. If you have spotted something interesting on the reserve, please do make a record HERE on iRecord, and if you think it is particularly significant please let us know at [email protected].
This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website