A hot but good day at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

, 12 August 2020
A hot but good day at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Ringed Plover © Sara Humphreys

By guest blogger Sara Humphreys

Wildlife photography literally takes blood, sweat and tears. Or it does the way I do it.

I don't like using hides much. I prefer to work in the open, immersing myself in nature I'm working with. I rely on fieldcraft skills to get as close as I can without disturbance; reading the difference in behaviours between casual curiosity and uncertain alarm.

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Yet hot weather makes finding my subjects so much harder. Birds seek shade and hide out of sight, saving foraging energy for cooler hours and I blister and bake as I hike for miles  often coming home with very little but sweat to show for my efforts.

So recently, I took a break between trekking the trails at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and slipped into the high tide from a quiet bit of beach to cool off. No sooner had I sat back on the shore than a young Ringed Plover swept in to roost along the bank above me.

I slipped carefully down the shingle, lying prone, still in a soaking wet bikini and lined up a pic. But as I focused on the first bird, more appeared, flitting in across the water as no threat alert had been signalled  First parent plovers, then Turnstones, Dunlin, a Sanderling and even an adult Knot (confirmed by Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Manager Barry Yates at the same location).

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Now shore birds are pretty shy and need to conserve all the energy they can. They are not a group I get close to very often as I don't want to disturb them. These however, gave me a magical hour or so, where they swept ever closer to me in foraging waves, regarding me with watchful curiosity rather than animosity.

At times, I had tiny Plovers and Dunlin darting within ten feet of me and barely dared to breathe in case I scared them off.

But as the tide line dropped and they fluttered further down to forage, I snuck away to leave them in peace. It might have been a brief interlude to my boiling 11 hour field day, but I've a feeling that experience will be one of my lifetime nature highlights. I'll be sharing more of this series on my Instagram account. 

What's been your most magical wild moment this summer? 

See more of Sara amazing photos on Insta here


  • David Phillips:

    Lovely set of images together with enthusiasm in the commentary.Especially love the adders!

    17 Aug 2020 13:06:00