Piscivorian plenty

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An abundance of fish in the River Rother during November created a wildlife spectacle

November was a great month for watching piscivores (animals that eat fish) at the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and here we publish the latest news from the senior warden, Barry Yates, who regularly writes a blog for the Sussex Wildlife Trust at https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/.

Earlier in the year there were so few small fish in the sea that sandwich terns and Mediterranean gulls decided not to nest here, but recently the situation has changed and there have been so many small fish in Rye Bay, in the estuary and the saltmarsh that many animals have arrived to feed on them.

In the saltmarsh there’s been 20 or more little egrets, up to seven great egrets and a regular spoonbill. In the Rother Estuary common or harbour seals have been frequent, with an occasional goosander and guillemot.

The common or harbour seal spotted in the Rother Estuary

But the best wildlife spectacle of all was out in Rye Bay with gannet, cormorant, red-throated divers, great crested grebe, guillemot, razorbill, some very late sandwich terns and, of course, very many gulls. On some mornings there were more than a thousand cormorants standing on the shore at low tide.

A red-throated diver

On a few days hundreds of gannets came close inshore at high tide and there was a spectacular feeding frenzy near the river mouth. Inland, at the ditches and pits there were also several fisher birds. At the Halpin hide the long-staying black-necked grebe was in its monochrome winter plumage, but still with its ruby-red eye.

A black-necked grebe

From the Denny and Parkes hides, many little grebes were busy catching three-spined sticklebacks and prawns.

Little grebe

Along ditches, near culverts and occasionally on the posts in front of hides, a kingfisher was often seen flying off, but only a trail camera could give a close view.

We hope the fish stocks in the sea and inland remain high so that next year the grebes, gulls, and terns that nest here with us, will have plenty of food to raise their young and that some of the gannets that nest on Alderney, will make the journey to Rye Bay for their catch of the day.

Image Credits: Barry Yates .

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