Monday, 7 October 2013

Deja vu at Rye Harbour

I think it was two Octobers ago that there was a short spell of freakishly warm weather, and one of the things I did during it was go to Rye Harbour nature reserve. However, on that occasion I think I saw lots more wildlife than I did yesterday, not that it wasn't very nice to visit the place again on such a pleasant day.

Rather a blurry baby Swallow, photographed from the car park while Rob debated whether or not to lug the Sigmonster down to the nearest hide (he opted for 'not'). There were only a few hirundines around today, not long before there are zero.

We headed first for the only east-facing (and therefore promising good light) hide on the reserve, stopping on the way to take a few shots of this Starling in all its spotty festive finery. There wasn't an awful lot else to see on the way, apart from Cormorants, gulls and the odd Meadow Pipit and Skylark. One of the diggings just before the hide held a small gaggle of wildfowl, mainly Gadwalls and Wigeons.

There were plenty of birds on view from the hide, but they were all very, very far away. This little group of Grey Plovers were about the closest - there's also a Golden Plover on the island, just right of the Lapwing. Further back, lots more Goldens, then a layer of Lapwings, and right at the back is large white-headed gull zone.

The only birds that were any closer were of the grebe persuasion - a small group of Littles, and a pair of Great Cresteds, the latter fast losing their 'ruffs'.

We (especially Rob) were most diverted by several large crabs on the shore and in the shallows immediately in front of the hide. Still working on IDing them... ETA - it looks like it's a Shore Crab. Thanks, Greenie. I did wonder if it was a bit too big for that sp, but I also posted the pic on Birdforum (yes, I know it's not a bird but they have a 'marine life' section), and have had a reply also saying Shore Crab.

We didn't go into the west-facing hide opposite, but instead headed for the beach. The tide was in and only a thin strip of sand was available to waders, which is probably why there weren't any waders. Gulls drifted past offshore and Cormorants flapped purposefully overhead, but nothing more exotic/interesting made an appearance. We walked on towards the inland-bound path at the river mouth.

The sun was getting lowish now and the gulls were starting to look irresistably photogenic in the warm light. This Great Black-backed came so close that it actually made Rob duck.

Not a creature to be trifled with. Gull-wise, only Black-headed, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls were to be seen today.

The three amigos.

On this side of the Flat Beach, the waders were a little closer, but much, much more badly lit. Migrant of the day was this nice autumn Wheatear.

And wintry spectacle of the day - a great big flock of Linnets swirling about by the Wader hide.

Lots of Starlings were assembling on the same tall mast where I photographed them two years ago. I decided to go over for even more photos.

Hmmm. Photographing a group en masse, I noticed that there was an intriguingly pale bird among them (it's third down on the far right in this shot). The old pulse started to race... could I have found a Rose-coloured Starling? Or a 'fawn yawn' as the more jaded birders call them when they're in their milky-tea juvenile plumage, which they retain much longer than our own Starlings do - all our lot are in first-winter plumage now so any 'juvenile starling' warrants a closer look. I hurried closer...

 ... to find that it wasn't one. But it's a very pretty leucistic Common Starling, probably a 'brown' mutant like the Greylag I posted the other day, and I've never seen one before, and it's just as good as finding a rarity. No, really it is.

And then it was time to go. Back at the car I grabbed a quick one of Herring Gulls playing musical posts before unpacking the gear.


Greenie said...

Marianne ,
One of my favourite reserves , but like you , find it hit and miss for species .
Like the landing GCG .
The new workings certainly improved Summer sightings and nesting .
Not being funny , but could the crabs be Shore Crabs ?

Lou Mary said...

Love the grebe photo! You have really shown the starlings off, wonderful colourings they possess when seen in the right lights and such an overlooked bird. I only live about 40 mins from Rye, I should really make a trip down there at some point!

Our photos said...

Beautiful photos!
Greetings, RW & SK