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Wild Rye: Discover Our Wetland Wildlife

Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly

What to Look For


It is usually the weather that has the greatest influence in what you will see around Rye Harbour Nature Reserve in the winter.

If the weather has been mild it may still be possible, in sheltered places, to find the flowers of Red Valerian, Viper’s Bugloss, Yellow-horned Poppy, Yarrow, Gorse, Herb Robert and Stork‚Äôs-bill. Some of the butterflies may be tempted from hibernation, so look out for Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

If the weather has been cold many birds will be forced south, so flocks of White-fronted Geese and many ducks, especially Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal and perhaps Pintail. A rare one to look out for is the Smew.

Offshore, Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebe, Gannets, and Guillemot may be fishing, especially after winter storms and great rafts of Common Scoter will be swimming in long black lines, often accompanied by Scaup or the occasional Velvet Scoter.

Great Crested Grebes on the sea

Along the Beach Reserve there may be large flocks of common finches, such as Greenfinches, Linnets and Goldfinch. Look out for rarer ones, like Twite, Lapland and Snow Buntings. Birds of prey are attracted by these smaller birds so you might see Merlin, Marsh or Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl and Peregrine, as well as the more usual Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

Goldfinches feeding on Ragwort

At Castle Water there will be wintering Stonechats and Chiffchaff. In the reeds look and listen for Water Rail, Bearded Tit and Bittern – especially at dusk when several may be roosting.