February | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Brent Goose

What to see in February

Brent Goose © Dave Kilbey

Despite the short days some birds will have started their breeding season – Ringed Plovers will be displaying on the beach, Great Crested Grebes will be going through their elaborate courtship on the pits and the Cormorants will be nesting at Castle Water. Hundreds of wading birds such as Oystercatcher and Dunlin feed along the shore and congregate to roost on the sea bank at high tide, and gull numbers will be starting to build up.

There are few flowers to be found, but Gorse is nearly always in bloom and Common Whitlowgrass (a tiny white grassland flower), Groundsel and Daisies may be in flower. During warm weather some of the early butterflies may be tempted to emerge from hibernation, look for Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. A few moths may also be on the wing on milder nights such as Herald and Angle Shades.

Despite the short days some birds will have started their breeding season – Ringed Plovers will be displaying on the beach, Great Crested Grebes will be going through their elaborate courtship on the pits and the Cormorants will be nesting at Castle Water. Hundreds of wading birds such as Oystercatcher and Dunlin feed along the shore and congregate to roost at high tide, and gull numbers will be starting to build up - listen out for Mediterranean Gulls and look for Black-headed Gulls getting their brown hood.

There will be many ducks in the wetlands, especially Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, and a few Pintail, but a rare one to look out for is the Smew. In freezing weather flocks of birds may depart (e.g. Lapwing, Golden Plover and Skylark), but others may arrive (e.g. such as White-fronted Geese). Offshore, Great Crested Grebe, Red-throated Diver and Guillemot may be fishing and rafts of Common Scoter may be swimming in long black lines, sometimes accompanied by Eider. Gannets and flocks of Brent Geese may already be starting their eastward return passage to their breeding grounds.

At Castle Water, especially near the viewpoint, there may be wintering Stonechats and Chiffchaff. In the reeds look and listen for Cetti’s Warbler, Water Rail and Bearded Tit. Dusk is a good time to see the Little Egrets, Bittern and even Great White Egret.

Small tortoiseshell Dennis Hunt
Small Tortoiseshell © DennisHunt
Oystercatcher
Oystercatcher © Barry Yates
Common Whitlowgrass
Common Whitlowgrass © Barry Yates
Brent Geese
Brent Geese © Alan Price

In this section


January

January

What to see in January
 
March

March

What to see in March
 

Sign up for your newsletter


Keep up to date with the latest developments.

We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage, to improve your browsing experience and show personalised content. You are free to manage this via your browser settings at any time. To learn more about how we use the cookies, please see our cookies policy.