Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Rye Harbour, September 30

Morning blogworld. It's been a busy weekend, so this is the first of three posts to come in short(ish) order. On Friday afternoon Sue and I went to Rye Harbour for a few hours in the afternoon. It was a blissful still, sunny and very warm day, which meant that the birds were mostly not doing very much but we saw a few bits and bobs.

Walking down to the sea, we found a whirling flock of Linnets, an incongruous sight on what felt like a midsummer day. They chose to stick to the backlit side of the path, but you can still make out the white wing flashes.

I wasn't expecting to see much in the way of migrants, but there were maybe half a dozen Wheatears playing 'you can't get a good photo of me, sucker' along the fence posts.

We decided to give the wader hide a miss, because the light was no good and we could see from the path that there were no birds in photographically close range. Instead, here's an atmospheric shot of some distant Oystercatchers.

We continued to the beach, where we ate our sandwiches. All looked pretty quiet at sea. Sue made herself comfy on the shingle, and I went to the wall overlooking the mouth of the Rother and Camber Sands beyond. The sands and shallows were full of holidaymakers, while a flock of Ringed Plovers flickered to and fro over the bay, annoyed perhaps that the sands were not as deserted as they would normally be this time of year.

Most of the terns have gone now, but there were one or two Sandwich Terns fishing far out in the bay.

Closer to hand, a trickle of large gulls, Herrings and Great Black-backs of all ages, were moving up and down the river.

A Cormorant. Easily seen here, all year round.

One final flyby - an Oystercatcher, showing off the white 'cut-throat' half-collar of its winter plumage.

We walked on, and opted to park ourselves in the Steve Denny hide for a while, as it faces the right way to catch the evening light. It overlooks a large scrape which in summer held plenty of breeding gulls and terns. Now, it was pretty quiet, but had a surprise in store, a trio of Brent Geese. They floated langorously about, no doubt wondering if they had got the wrong date on their calendars when they departed the Arctic to begin their winter sojourn over here. Also on the water was a family of Little Grebes.

With little to see on the water, it was eyes to the skies. Here too there wasn't much action, until a long line of brown birds appeared, heading straight for us. As they got closer they resolved themselves into a flock of Curlews. There were also numerous Mallards flying over, but without exception they were coming from the other direction, so all I got was retreating bum shots.

We stayed in the hide until nearly twilight, then continued  towards the caravan park. I paused to photograph a Magpie, looking very nice in the evening light. Behind it you can see part of the extensive new floodings that take up what used to be arable fields in the north-eastern part of the beach reserve.

Back at the car park, I was drawn to the big gathering of Starlings on this mast. We walked towards them, ostensibly to check out the pub at the end of Harbour Road.

The pub turned out to be very shut. I took a few cheeky closer shots of the Starlings, then we went back to the car, packed up and went to the Inkerman Arms, where we had a drink in the garden as the sun finally disappeared. The day's birding fun wasn't quite over though. There were sounds of a kerfuffle among the Starlings going to roost in the leylandii in the garden, then an agonised squealing and a dark shape flitting away behind the trees - a Sparrowhawk had nabbed one of the roosting Starlings.

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