WINTER storms and flooding may have caused damage to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve but wading birds took full advantage visiting it in their thousands.
Parts of the road through the reserve, from Rye Harbour village to the river mouth, were completely washed away during an exceptional tidal surge that swept along the Rye coast in the early hours of December 6.
Reserve manager Barry Yates explained: “It has been an amazing winter at the reserve.
As the water flowed over the road it created a waterfall on the far side that eroded the shingle bank on which the road sat and washed it away, scouring a deep channel.
“It raised the water level so much that some footpaths and bird hides were knee-deep in water.
“These hides did not wash away because they were well anchored.
“The already high water levels on the reserve were exacerbated by double the usual rainfall in December and January so the wetland remained wetter than normal and some paths muddier than usual.
“But the wading birds loved it with thousands of golden plover and lapwing in swirling flocks as they escape capture by merlin and peregrine.
“There was a supporting cast of hundreds of oystercatcher; dunlin; redshank and curlew, plus ringed plover, grey plover, ruff, bar-tailed godwit, snipe, jack snipe, knot with over-wintering spotted redshank, greenshank and even a common sandpiper.”
The road has been repaired since Boxing Day after being made a priority by the Environment Agency because they needed access to the river mouth for managing the sea defences along Pett Level.
They filled the scour channel and re-surfaced the road.
A lot of shingle was washed inland and this has remained in place.
The reserve is fully accessible every day. And you can visit www.WildRye.info for further details, including the many events organised by the reserve.