We capture the castle

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Manager of the nature reserve Barry Yates explains the castle's history to an appreciative audience

Walkers joining the wildlife trail organised by Rye Harbour Nature Reserve enjoyed an impromptu visit to Camber Castle last Sunday September 14 thanks to the reserve’s manager Barry Yates. Barry, who has been at the reserve for 30 years, took us in to see a very rare plant, wall germander, which has been growing in the castle for many centuries and is a favourite plant of bees. The plant was killed off by contractors spraying it a few years ago, but fortunately some local people had previously taken cuttings and the plant was successfully reintroduced to the castle.

Claw of vole and toe of shrew: barn owls nest in the castle and although we didn’t see any, we did find evidence of their presence in the shape of a distinctive pellet, which when dissected contained the claws of a vole and a shrew.

Most of the walkers had not been inside the castle before, which is only open a few days a year, so we were fascinated to see the network of tunnels, the elaborate chimneys which drew cannon smoke away from the soldiers and to see how the castle had been adapted as the sea retreated. Seeing our interest, Barry kindly gave us a guided tour with historical detail.

Birds of a feather: the walk also encompassed the Castle Water hide where vast numbers of birds congregate and pose for photographs. It is really helpful to have experts with you to help identify and pick out individual varieties.

The reserve runs numerous events throughout the year – for details visit the reserve’s website.

The castle is home to shrubby wall germander and owls