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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 29th April 2006
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Well the weather man said that today would be the only reasonable day over the whole bank holiday weekend, so we got ourselves down to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to see what we could find. We didn't expect to see the Bitterns again as they have left now. But what we did hope to see were some Swifts. We reckon that you can't call it summer until these fantastic little fliers are back with us.
The reserve is huge and takes 2 days to see properly, so we cherry picked the areas we wanted to see. The Ternery pool was audible from a distance due to the large breeding colony of Common Terns and Black headed Gulls that is there. The birds are either mating or squabbling, so the place is a hive of activity. Amongst the throng we were able to pick out quite a few other species too; Sandwich Terns, Little Terns, Mediterranean Gulls, Ruddy Ducks as well as the normal residents such as Oystercatchers and Lapwing. 
At Rye you really don't know where to look first as the land and sky seem to be teeming with life. We had flocks of Bar-tailed Godwits and Curlews flying over us, Grey Plover in the shingle, Linnets and Yellowhammer in the fields and Green Woodpeckers in the trees. There are even noisy Marsh Frogs in the small ponds.
Time was getting on, so we got back on the bike and went the mile or so inland towards Castle Water. In the hide there we had the highlights of the day. First we spotted some black-necked Grebes in their summer breeding plumage. We had never seen this species before and we did not expect to see it with it's colourful head feathers on show as they tend to breed in the north of England.
Just as we were about to leave, in came the Swifts! Summer had finally arrived. They did not look the slightest bit tired after their non-stop flight from Africa. In fact, these birds do not touch down for at least the first 3 years of their lives, and they go to Africa every year! They sleep and even mate on the wing. Estimates of their mileage starts at half a million miles, but no one knows for sure. 
Even though the rain threatened we remained dry and had a great ride there and back.

Ternary pool. 

Part of the waterway and reed bed around Castle Water. You can see the castle in the background.

The area also has lots of grassland. The home of sheep, Skylarks and other meadow birds.