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Wild Rye: Discover Our Wetland Wildlife

Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly

What to Look For


There are few flowers to be found, but gorse is nearly always in bloom and common whitlowgrass (a tiny white flower), winter heliotrope, groundsel and daisies may be seen from late January. During warm weather some of the early butterflies may be tempted to emerge from hibernation, look for brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock. A few moths may also be on the wing on milder nights such as herald and angle shades.
If the winter is cold many birds will be forced south, so flocks of white-fronted geese and many ducks, especially wigeon, shoveler, teal, and perhaps pintail may be present, a rare one to look out for being the smew.

smew, 2 drakes and 1 redhead

In freezing weather flocks of birds may depart (e.g. lapwing), or arrive (e.g. skylark). Birds of prey usually present are merlin, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk and peregrine*, as well as barn and sometimes short-eared owls and there is always the chance of something unusual, like long-eared owl. Offshore, great crested grebe, red-throated divers and guillemot may be fishing, especially after winter storms and great rafts of common scoter may be swimming in long black lines, often accompanied by eider.

short-eared Owl

Flocks of common finches and buntings on the Beach Reserve may include a few snow buntings. On fine days at the Beach Reserve there may be displaying ringed plover and grey partridge. Hundreds of wading birds such as oystercatchers, sanderling and dunlin feed along the shore and congregate to roost on the sea bank at high tide.


At Castle Water, especially near the viewpoint, there may be wintering stonechats and chiffchaff. In the reeds there look and listen for Cettiā€™s warbler, water rail and bearded tit. Dusk is the best time to look for the little egrets and bittern.

bittern at Castle Water