Rye Harbour heatwave

19th April

The hot sun warms the sea air to a haze. The gulls, terns and avocets are a whirl of brilliant white under the clear blue sky and there is endless noise; it creates a confusing, bustling scene; birds are chasing and are chivied, others are building nests or displaying and mating in a frenzied flap. All infected by an incurable spring fever.

Avocets over the marshes

There are dozens of oystercatchers; many nesting quietly, others piping, and a single ringed plover bobs and calls from an empty shingle ridge. A small flock of whimbrels fly off and head northwards. A large mixed colony of sandwich terns and Mediterranean gulls is settled on the far side of the Ternery Pool and black-headed gulls fill the small, shingle islands. There are no swallows or sand martins over the water, just a single wheatear briefly on a distant fence post.

Whimbrel flock
Camber castle and cattle

Inland and the reed-filled dykes and thorny corners ring with the calls of sedge and Cetti’s warblers; swathes of low bramble bushes are filled with dunnocks and lesser whitethroats. Peacock butterflies sunbathe on the bare ground and pairs spiral high up into the air. A single cuckoo calls briefly. Castle water, the flooded gravel pit near Camber castle, has a brilliant, black-necked grebe in breeding plumage. Cormorants slowly kill the willows with their guano and adults and young sit on their dead stick nests and pant hard in the afternoon heat.

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