Gulls, terns, skuas, waders and auks make up a large order of mostly wetland birds called the Charadriiformes. Of the of 350 species worldwide, 15 species nest at Rye Harbour and we work hard to maintain and hopefully increase their populations. We had a generally successful year at keeping fox and badger away from the nests with electric fencing, but 2016 was still a tough year for these species with challenging weather. Two species did very well, the black-headed gulls and the oystercatchers, but the terns did very poorly and struggled to feed their chicks. Fortunately all Chardriiformes live a long time, so they only need a productive year occasionally.
So here is summary of 2016:
Little Tern – 17 pairs – probably none fledged, but 6 large chicks in mid-July might have.
Sandwich Tern – 450 pairs – less than 10 fledged
Common Tern – 130+ pairs - 15 fledged
Black-headed gull – 2,150 pairs – probably fledged around 2 per pair
Mediterranean gull – 52 pairs – at least 16 fledged
Common gull – 2 pairs on Ternery Pool but no success
Herring gull – 26 pairs nested on the reserve but did not produce chicks. Many other pairs nested on buildings in the surrounding area.
Lesser black-backed gull – 3 pairs nested on the reserve but did not produce chicks. A few pairs nested on buildings in the surrounding area.
Great black-backed gull - a pair nested on the Martello Tower next to the car park and raised young.
Redshank – 15 pairs – several broods seen but very few fledged
Avocet – 62 pairs – but less than 20 fledged
Oystercatcher – 33 pairs had very good success
Ringed plover – 30 pairs had moderate success
Little ringed plover – 3 pairs - chicks seen but success unknown
Lapwing - 16 pairs – only 3-5 fledged
Here are the long-term breeding numbers for six species to show populations trends on the reserve.