We were promised sun, sea and a shingle habitat in which we hoped to see common, little and sandwich terns. Well the only thing lacking was the sun and even that showed signs of wanting to appear. This great reserve which boasts 90 breeding species of bird did not disappoint. No sooner had we entered the reserve, or even before if you count the car park, we were ticking off the birds. Blackbird and skylark were singing along with whitethroat and collared dove. Noisy oystercatchers flew over our heads, as did common terns. Avocet with young could be seen on the scrapes as we approached Kiln cottage and a hobby passed over as we stood watching them.
Conservation plays a big part in the running of this reserve. It protects a rich and varied fauna and flora by the work it does. It provides a variety of habitats including shingle ridges, salt marshes, gravel pits and lagoons. It is because of this that it manages to attract birds like ringed and little ringed plover which both breed here and which we were lucky enough to see. Another bird that likes it here is the wheatear. Rye is one of the few places in the south of England where breeding wheatears are to be found. Although we did not see any evidence of young, there were birds present and hopefully pairing up. Little tern is also to be found here breeding in small numbers and we were able to see a group of them resting on a small island from the first hide. No sign of chicks yet but fingers crossed. The reserve does a lot of work to protect them and provide them with the habitat they like.
Lunch was at the ternery pools, where we had great views of nesting black-headed and Mediterranean gulls with young. The islands also held sandwich terns and cormorants. Finishing lunch we visited another hide overlooking a pool that had common terns which appeared to be on nests. We also saw a turnstone in summer plumage, not something many of us had seen before, looking rather splendid. A highlight of this hide was views of two cuckoo flying and sitting quite close by.
Moving on there were even more great birds to follow. Whimbrel, marsh harrier, little ringed-plover, swallow, reed warbler, lesser whitethroat to name but a few.
We ended the walk with house martins flying in and out of their nests on local houses and a mistle thrush sitting in a tree by the loos. The only thing that could top that was an ice cream cornet which some of us enjoyed before heading home.
And thanks to Terry and Steve for the photographs.