We had hoped to get to Rye a couple of weeks ago, but needed to have good weather. This Wednesday was a good choice, as we had sunshine and blue skies for most of the day.
The sightings in the car park were Herring Gull, Starling and Goldfinch. As we walked along the footpath we noted Salsify, Slender Thistle, Sea Kale and Yellow Horned Poppy in flower. A couple of hairy moth caterpillars caught Malcolm’s attention, Brown Tailed and Oak Eggar – further along we found another, the Pale Grass Eggar. Our non-avian list rumbled along with Small Copper, Common Blue and Painted Lady butterflies also seen.
In the avian world however, it was a hectic whirl of parenting and defending nests which just makes our species look like amateurs. Little Tern nests were being threatened by Rooks, Common Terns joined in the mobbing in an attempt to protect the youngsters. Black-headed Gulls squawked away making a cacophonous din, constantly calling to each other, their chicks and their neighbours. Often a chick or adult would get the geography a little wrong and what appeared to be vicious pecking and kicking would be called for until the interloper found its rightful nest and order was restored.
A group of Cormorants enjoyed peace on their own island drying their wings in the sunshine. One adult was trying to encourage its fledgling to feed, and repeatedly dived then surfaced until the youngster got the message. Three Little Egret hunted for small fish along the edges of the pools, keeping out of the main areas of contention.
Away from the water we heard a Cuckoo calling and found Wheatear families (potentially two) with adult males feeding fledglings which constantly begged for food. We also found a very smart male Linnet dutifully feeding its young. Both species were encouraging their young to fend for themselves – but with what appeared to be little success.
A Ringed Plover was hunkered down in the shingle viewable from the new hide near Lime Kiln Cottage, it didn’t move all the time we watched, so could be on a nest. There were also several Avocet in similar pose.
Several Mediterranean Gulls were on nests and we saw one chick which was preening by an adult. The Common Terns were raising young too with at least four families viewable with young fluffy spotty chicks. One family appeared to be reliant on one parent and hid behind a stone until food arrived. Not the best of circumstances as when one of the chicks ventured out from its cover it got a vicious peck and head bashing from another adult Tern. A second nest had a parent standing guard whilst its mate collected food, in the third chick was happily snuggled under mum or day and poked its head out from under the adult’s wing every now and then to see how the neighbours were doing. Other birds appeared to be sitting on nests and one couple looked as if they were still scraping out a nest, so there could be more young on the way.
A Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe were also noted amongst the other occupants of the Ternery Pool which included Tufted Duck, Mallard, Greylag Geese with young, and a large contingent of Sandwich Terns.
On our return journey Sally spotted a couple of Stock Dove feeding in the shingle ridges and a Hobby shot through with some Swallows.