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My original title for this blog was ‘A mad Kiwi and an Englishwoman go birding in a howling gale’. I decided that was a trifle long but it was certainly an accurate reflection of our day at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Nevertheless, we persevered, though we did put off walking the beach-top path – I think we would’ve been blown all the way back to Rye township if we’d tried that.

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As you might expect, the birds were mostly hunkered down, sheltering where possible behind clumps of grass or huddled alongside sandy banks. Still, with brief stops here and there to scan the shingle and reeds with constantly watering eyes through fogging-up binoculars and short pops into hides (as much to warm up as to look out), we managed to clock up a total of 35 species. They were: Kestrel, House sparrow, Herring gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Black-headed gull, Mallard, Shelduck …

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Shoveler (above, seen through a netting fence), Brent goose …

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Wigeon (those handsome birds above), Oystercatcher, Carrion crow, Tufted duck …

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Redshank (always a favourite of mine), Coot …

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Cormorant (already beginning to nest in trees near Castle Water) …

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Great black-backed gull and Lapwing (both above), Little grebe, Mute swan, Teal, Little egret, Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Green woodpecker, Great tit, Coal tit, Magpie, Mistle thrush, Pied wagtail, Greylag goose, Egyptian goose, Pheasant, and Starling.