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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve 05.06.21: Black-headed Gull Chicks and a Spotted Redshank

I caught two rains to Rye Harbour (Brighton to Eastbourne, Eastbourne to Rye)

My photographs are presented in chronological order of my walk through the reserve.

Walking from Brede Lock to Camber Castle

Starlings on the back of a sheep, eating insects from the sheep's fleece

A Pied Wagtail

A House Sparrow

Camber Castle

Camber Water

Cormorants nesting in trees in Camber Water

Camber Castle form Camber Water

Herring Gulls in flight over Camber Water

Great Crested Grebes

A Kestrel in flight above Castle Water

Camber Castle from Castle Water

A Cormorant in flight

A Herring Gull in flight

Waking the east path from Camber Water to Rye Harbour Village

Juvenile Coot

Adult Coot

Rye Harbour Village

Jackdaw in field of daisies next to Rye Harbour Village's Church (St Mary's)

From the path through the Salt Pools

Black-headed Gull

Greenshank with Avocet in background

Little Egret

Skylark; there were many nesting, making shirt trips to forage and returning to the nest site

Avocet and chick


Black-headed Gull and chick; Avocet in background

More nesting Skylarks

House Sparrow

Avocet and Chick


Avocets and chick

Greylag Goode and Avocet chicks

Avocet and chick

Avocet chick, Avocet ad Greylag Goose



Avocets and Greylag Goose


Denny Hide, Flat Beach Pool

Juvenile Starlings outside and on the hide roof

Common Tern and a Spotted Redshank (possibly) on an island in Flat Beach Pool

Common Terns in Flight over Flat beach Pool

Nesting Black-headed Gulls on island in Flat Beach Pool

Male Tufted Duck

Nesting Black-headed Gulls

Nesting Common Terns

Black-headed Gulls mating

after mating

Spotted Redshank (possibly). The bill length of this bird is more than twice the width of it's head, which is the structural differential between a Spotted Red Shank and a Redshank according to the British Trust for Ornithology. (BTO News, Summer 2021. According to the RSPB there are approximately 98 Spotted Redshanks over-wintering in the the UK, and we get about 540 passage migrants; so, if this is a Spotted Redshank, it is probably a passage migrant stopping off in Rye on its way elsewhere. Spotted Redshank Bird Facts | Tringa Erythropus - The RSPB

From Parkes Hide - Ternery Pool

Little Egret - whilst walking around the reserve I met its manager (wearing a Sussex Wildlife Tryst hat) and we had a chat. He conformed that when they had put up a drone to count the birds nesting in the reserve that there has been a significant increase in the number of Little Egrets; a fact I have noted in recent observations at the Adur Valley, Rye Harbour and Pagham Harbour. I also asked about the Little Bitterns and he confirmed that they were regular breeders now in Castle Water, and were resident all year, but were only likely to be seen on a frosty winter day when the Water edge froze, driving the Bitterns out of the reeds in which they typically stay.

Oystercatchers in flight

From Crittall Hide, Ternery Pool

Black-headed Gull with chicks



Spotted Redshank - see abiove

Black-headed Gull with chicks on their nest site (an island in front of the Crittall Hide, on Ternery Pool

Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns and Avocets nesting together on the same island

Black-headed Gulls and chicks

Along the Beach Road

Ruined 19th century house

Mary Stanford Lifeboat Station

Situated on a lonely stretch of the coastline of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, two miles from the present RNLI Rye Harbour Lifeboat Station, is the derelict Mary Stanford Lifeboat House. Architecturally, the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House is a rare surviving example of a construction of the pre-1885 pioneering period of the use of concrete for building purposes. It may also be the only remaining example of a pre-1885 concrete lifeboat house. Decommissioned by the RNLI in 1928 it remains dear in the memory of Rye Harbour for what happened on 15 November 1928. On the morning of that day, the Mary Stanford Lifeboat was launched from this lifeboat house into the teeth of a gale described, at the time, as being the worst in living memory. The Mary Stanford Lifeboat was launched to rescue the crew of a vessel in difficulties off the coast of Dungeness. This unnecessary rescue attempt (as the crew of the stricken vessel had already been saved) was devastating, however, as it resulted in the deaths of all 17 crew on the Lifeboat; nearly the whole male fishing men of Rye Harbour. This was the single, largest loss of life from a single lifeboat and there were many "family" members among the crew; a father and two sons, three brothers and cousins. Sixteen crew members are buried in a communal grave in the churchyard of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Rye Harbour. The seventeenth body was never recovered. A visit to the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House can easily be combined with a view to the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Pebble Memorial (outside the present-day lifeboat station in Rye Harbour), the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster Memorial (over the communal grave in the churchyard) and the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster Memorial Window (in the Parish Church of St Thomas the Martyr in nearby Winchelsea).. Geoff H (March 2020) Mary Stanford Lifeboat House (Winchelsea) - 2021 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with Photos) - Winchelsea, UK | Tripadvisor

Memorial to the lifeboat men from the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Station as sea in 1928 - in the churchyard of St Mary's Rye Harbour village. (These two photographs are out of chronological sequence)

Rye Harbour beach

Wall of the churchyard of St Thomas Church, Winchelsea, where the bus stop is (that I took back to Hastings)



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