Thursday 4 April 2019

Goring Gap and Rye Harbour

An excellent 4-hour seawatch from the car at Goring Gap this morning produced 10 Manx Shearwaters west (a group of eight, then two singletons) and three Arctic Skuas east (both year ticks), as well as five Bonxies, 232 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 33 Common Scoters, a Shelduck, eight Red-throated Divers, 28 Fulmars, two Great Crested Grebes, eight Kittiwakes, a Guillemot, 37 Sandwich Terns and an eastward flurry of 24 Mediterranean Gulls. It was great to witness a busy sea again, and the onset of spring migration along the Channel!

Later, Gareth and I headed to Rye Harbour for a late session. We started with a scope around the Flat Beach from the John Gooders Hide. Surprisingly, we picked up the three Twite feeding to the south of the hide - surely these birds with move to their breeding grounds soon! Singles of Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Turnstone lurked around the edges, along with small numbers of Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls argued the toss as on their breeding islands, while Avocets (a year tick for me!) sweeped the water's surface close to the hide. Lone Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Egyptian Goose were also present.

Avocet at Rye Harbour

We moved on to Castle Water, where a Willow Warbler was singing behind the viewpoint and a more distant Sedge Warbler was heard chattering away. A group of around 40 hirundines headed through, mostly Sand Martins but with around five Swallows were in the midst, the latter being my first of 2019. The Bittern we'd heard booming on our last visit thankfully erupted from nearby reeds before long then proceeded to boom a couple of times. A couple of Bearded Tits were heard calling but remained unseen. A Marsh Harrier patrolled the reedbeds, and we also logged a couple of Cetti's Warblers and a Peregrine.