On Saturday, October 9 the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve put on their regular event “Guide in a Hide” where visitors can learn more about what there is to see across the reserve from the bird watching hides. We thought this would be a good opportunity to enjoy a lovely sunny day and maybe learn a bit more about bird watching.
In the discovery centre, along with the usual goodies at the café, there was a very good second-hand book sale with nature and bird related books to help beginners like us. We bought a couple of small portable books and had a brief discussion with a very knowledgeable and helpful volunteer about the best apps for learning to identify different species. There was also a table with handcrafts and we bought a hand-knitted dog coat (we no longer have a dog, but it will make a nice Christmas gift). It’s good to help support the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.
Walking up towards the sea we entered a bird hide to find a friendly, fun atmosphere with visitors being shown the viewing equipment and looking at a large flock of redshanks and terns on the ground a short distance away. The views really are so beautiful. We settled down to try to focus a monocular telescope which at first didn’t seem at all easy. Then suddenly I had in view a curlew, so clear and seemingly close I was at first startled. It was as if the curlew was on my lap. I could see it so clearly that I could count its feathers. Then I noticed another bird pecking about and kicking stones. The volunteer guide told me it was a turnstone. I was amazed!
Suddenly the flock of redshanks became agitated and started to fly up. A sparrow hawk swooped from nowhere and flew up into the middle of the flock as it rose from the ground. It was a moment of drama and excitement and the atmosphere in the hide became intense. Then just as suddenly everything settled back down.
We are fans of James Tomlinson and his incredible photographs of the bird life at Rye Harbour. It’s amazing how much you can learn just by looking at photos. Recently there were ospreys that are summer visitors and spend the winters in Africa. Imagine!
We learned so much during our visit. We now know the difference between a birder and a twitcher. It was a great afternoon. When we got home we dug out our old binoculars and will definitely be reading the books and paying more visits to the hides on the reserve.
Image Credits: Mags Ivatts .