April 2019 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings

April 2019 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Sightings
Ivy-leaved Toadflax

This is the month of amazing changes in the natural world with birds arriving / leaving / migrating and many insects and flowers appearing. We enjoyed some exceptionally warm weather, a few April showers and lots of lovely wildlife.

 Sedge warbler

 April Fool’s Day brought the first Sedge Warblers (above), 2 Garganey, 2 Little Gulls, a booming Bittern and the long staying Ring-necked Duck at Castle Water (it stayed until at least 17th and was still local, at Pett Pools at the month’s end).  There was an early Whimbrel heard on 2nd and numbers built up to about 30 feeding on the grassland during the month. On 5th the first Little Ringed Plover and a Glossy Ibis were noted. 4 Cattle Egrets at Castle Farm on 7th. By the 8th there were singing Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Cettis Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, joined by Common and Lesser Whitethroats on 12th and Reed Warblers (below) on 17th.

Reed warbler

On the 10th there was a Ring Ouzel and a Cattle Egret at Castle Water. A pair of Black-winged Stilt was seen on Rye Harbour Farm 17th-19th. The 3 long staying Twite were last seen near the red roofed hut on 12th, the day a Green Sandpiper was noted at Castle Water. A record of 3 Jays on 19th at Rye Harbour Farm was very unusual, and the following day saw our first Cuckoo… at their favoured spot, the viewpoint at Castle Water. Also that day Corn Bunting was singing near the castle, where there was also Yellow Wagtail,  Raven and Peregrine.

 Sandwich Tern nesting

On 20th a Red Kite and 2 Spotted Redshank were noted on Rye Harbour Farm. The first day with all three of our breeding terns back was 22nd, when 7 Little Terns were seen on Flat Beach. Then on 25th the Sandwich Terns made their bid to nest on an island at Ternery Pool and their numbers built to over 100 pairs by the end of the month. These included 2 Dutch ringed adults. Swifts and Hobby returned to our skies on 27th . Spoonbill were occasionally seen, with 3 flying over Flat Beach on 21st, 1 there on 22nd and 1 on a pool on 29th . A late Merlin was noted on 22nd  and 25th .


On the castle there was a good show of perfumed yellow Wallflowers (above) and on the surrounding ridges good numbers of flowers of Common Stork’sbill and Dove’sfoot Cranesbill. Mid-month there was a spectacular flowering of Blackthorn bushes and by 19th the first Hawthorn was noted in flower. On the shingle ridges close to the sea the first flowering of Ivy-leaved Toadflax was noted on 15th, Sea Campion on 21st and Sea Kale on 29th. By the end of the month many members of the pea family were flowering, including Birds-foot Trefoil, Hairy Tare, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Subterranean Clover  and of course the long flowering Gorse.

 Castle gorse 2

The warm Easter weather encouraged an extremely loud chorus of Marsh Frogs from the ditches and pools (below).

 Marsh frog 4

A student studying the rare Red Hempnettle noted the even rarer flea beetle, Dibolia cynoglossi, that feeds only on that plant on the exceptionally early date of 16th .The 25th is St Mark’s Day and was the first day with many of the large black flies with long dangly legs called St Mark’s Fly. They like the patches of Alexanders at the Rye Harbour gate. 

St marks fly


  • Robin Harris:

    02 May 2019 10:27:00

    Lovely piece, Barry, and great photos. If that doesn’t encourage folk to think that a visit (or more than one) to the reserve is an essential part of spring I can’t think what would.

  • Brian:

    26 Apr 2020 15:00:00

    I’ve learned something today. The black flies are common in W. Cornwall where I live, near the coast. Thank you for helping me to identify them.

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