Busy year for Nature Reserve

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The walk to the sea past the red hut at Rye Harbour

The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot full of many plants and animals, some large and showy, but most small and easily overlooked.

During 2018, our wardens Chris and David led their teams of volunteers on workparties to manage some of our special habitats to encourage our 300 rare and endangered species to thrive. In 2018 we led more than 120 public events, giving 2,300 people wildlife experiences. Learning and Engagement Officer Lucy also led 13 educational groups for 425 students and held regular Watch groups for 5-to-11 year olds, and Nature Tots groups for 3-to-5 year olds.

Linda and volunteers Leah, Anne and Amanda, led 52 Wednesday Walks to encourage people to experience the health benefits of our natural environment, with an average of 11 walkers taking part on each. We also opened Camber Castle to the public and cleaned out the 1940s pillbox near the river. The paths, signs, seats and bird watching hides have been kept in good condition and we have had monthly beach cleans to remove the endless plastic.

Spoonbills feeding

So, we have created and maintained a great place for visitors to enjoy – and this is reflected in the 774 reviews on our Tripadvisor page.

Our visitor counts are not all in yet, but in 2017 there were an estimated 360,000 visits made to the nature reserve during the year. We have also built an audience of more than 5,000 on social media.

The nature reserve has become an important part of the local economy where 26% of jobs in Rother District are supported by tourism. To help local businesses we are encouraging visitors to come all year round, arrive by public transport, visit other local countryside attractions, stay locally and use the local facilities. The Friends of the nature reserve are helping with this and their book “The Shingle Shore” sold out and was reprinted, and in December, they produced a winter film, which has been showing at the Rye Kino, but you can also see on our home page and also here.

A tranquil scene at the Nature Reserve

The year’s weather started mild, but a late February cold spell continued into March and became known as the “Beast from the East”. So spring got off to a late start, but then the dry and hot summer curtailed the flowering of many plants. The wet and mild autumn saw many plants renew their flowering and the mild weather continued to the end of the year with very few frosts. You can read the full review and a month by month report here

Throughout the year there was much work behind the scenes to progress our Discovery Centre, with project development and fundraising to build and open the building by 2020 to give a better experience to our visitors, including those with mobility challenges. It will enable a great expansion of our educational activities for all ages. Find out more here

And if you want to support the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve you can join here

THANK YOU to all our supporters who make this nature reserve such a special place. We look forward to helping people discover more about our wildlife and the natural world in 2019.

Image Credits: Dr Barry Yates.

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