Spring Bird Arrivals in Rye Bay

, 25 April 2021
Spring Bird Arrivals in Rye Bay
Mediterranean Gulls displaying

The birdwatchers around Rye have been looking more at their local birds this year. So we thought it would be interesting to log the arrival of birds as they travel north - some to stop and nest here, but many more to continue their journey.

During February and March, but especially April and May, millions of birds will travel north, following the sun to try and raise the next generation. The timing of their arrival in Sussex is fairly predictable - with Swift and Spotted Flycatchers being among the latest - but it's always a joy to welcome them each year. 

Listed in order of appearance:

NSD = now seen daily

Mediterranean Gull - although some overwintered the first groups of birds were at Pett Level 16th February. NSD

Chiffchaff - although some overwintered, 1 was singing at Castle Water 26th February. NSD

Avocet - although 1 or 2 may have overwintered there was a flock of 36 at Rye Harbour 26th February. NSD

Sandwich Tern - 1 at Pett level 28th February, then on 8th March 12 at Rye Harbour and 5 at Pett Level. 190 roosting at Ternery Pool 28th NSD

Little Ringed Plover - 1 at Rye Harbour 6th and 7th March (this equals the earliest ever in Sussex). NSD

Cold northerly winds delay arrival of spring migrants.

Sand Martin - 1 was at Castle Water 19th March. Many feeding at Castle Water on 1st April. NSD

Swallow - back at its nesting barn in Udimore 24th and 25th March. At Rye Harbour 3 around the temporary cabins  on 29th were the first. On 1st April hundredes were at Castle Water feeding on all the flies there. NSD

Little Gull - an adult was feeding at Castle Water on 25th March

Wheatear - 2 different birds seen at Rye Harbour at same time, but different locations on 26th March. NSD

Blackcap - some overwinter, so it's difficult to tell early arrivals, but on 27th March males were heard singing at Winchelsea and Castle Water. NSD

The last two days of March were warm with light southerly winds, so migrations speeded up and even the laughing call of Marsh Frog was heard at 2 locations on 30th.

Sedge Warbler - at least 9 singing males were singing from reedbeds at Rye Harbour on 31st March.  NSD

Common Whitethroat - 1 singing in Brambles on 31st March NSD

Willow Warbler - 1 singing at Rye Harbour on 31st March NSD

Garganey - a male of this summer visiting duck was at Pett Level 24th March and then a pair at Rye Harbour on 31st 

Yellow Wagtail - one seen on Flat Beach at Rye Harbour 1st April, 5 near Camber Castle on 3rd. NSD

House Martin - several feeding with Swallows at Castle Water on 1st April

Reed Warbler - one singing at Pett Level 2nd April. Several singing at Rye Harbour 10th NSD

More cold weather slowing spring down.

Whimbrel - 5 flying along shore at Pett Level on 5th April, 3 at Castle Water 9th, 10 roosting in evening at Rye Harbour 12th. NSD

Common Tern - one seen flying along river Rother 8th April, 1 at Pett Level 14th. several at Pett Level 19th NSD

Swift - 2 over pits at Rye Harbour 11th April, 2 there 23rd.

Cuckoo - 1 heard at Pett Level 13th April, then 1 at Castle Water on 14th NSD

Lesser Whitethroat - 1 calling at Rye Harbour 18th NSD

Little Tern - 1 at Rye Harbour 19th NSD

Common Sandpiper - 1 on river Rother 20th NSD

Hobby - 1 at Castle Water 25th April

We'll update this blog through the Spring.

Swifts at Rye Harbour 03619 Swifts at Rye Harbour in late May

Leave a comment


  • Bridget Thomas:

    Thank you for giving us the lowdown on which birds have been around the harbour recently. It’s really helpful to know what to look for when we can get there again

    10 Mar 2021 17:03:00

  • David Phillips:

    Many thanks for keeping the information coming! Can’t wait to get back there once lockdown restrictions allow

    10 Mar 2021 22:45:00

  • Mali Halls:

    As I still cant get out due to shielding/lockdown its good to know what species have arrived on the reserve…Thanks for the info.

    11 Mar 2021 10:07:00

  • Kim Overington:

    A breath of fresh air.

    Lovely to see these beauties coming back to grace us with their presence ❤️

    11 Mar 2021 14:14:00

  • Why is there no mention of the 2 spoonbills seen on Salt Lake in January and February?

    Hi Elizabeth. Spoonbills are not a true spring migrant, but they are mentioned in this: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/february-2021-rye-harbour-nature-reserve-sightings Barry

    14 Mar 2021 17:09:00

  • Nick Roofer Jones:

    Great news to see these lovely birds again … time to get the binoculars ready! Thanks for the update.

    19 Mar 2021 11:25:00

  • Nick Roofer Jones:

    Great news to see these lovely birds again … time to get the binoculars ready! Thanks for the update.

    30 Mar 2021 16:15:00

  • ian bradshaw:

    Just to let you know that there was fox within the Flat Beach electric fence compound on Good Friday. Not sure how it got in or whether its den is there but it could well be a problem for the breeding birds as the spring continues.

    08 Apr 2021 08:52:00