Past Events

Talk 13 Apr 2024

Pett Level – Then and Now by Keith Swallow

Members of the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve were privy to a very informative and enjoyable talk by the author Keith Swallow today.

Keith initially developed a love of Romney Marsh and the surrounding area as a child, whilst visiting his Grandparents, and has gone on to live in the area. He has a passion for researching local history and has written several books.

The talk brought many aspects of Pett Level back to life. Keith took us back in time to the Pett Level of the Napoleonic wars with its eight Martello towers situated between Winchelsea Beach and Cliff End and the downfall of these structures; the importance to local life of the Ship Inn (then situated at the heart of Pett Level village, which was where the shingle is now, opposite Pett Pools); the contentious undertakings of the local landowners, and much, much more.

All in all, an excellent talk, enjoyed by a packed audience.

Talks

09 November – The Wonders of Bird Migration

Saturday 9th November 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by James Duncan.

Migration is an amazing feat of endurance and navigation. Join James Duncan from the SWT to find out more about this fascinating topic.

Birds are without doubt the planet’s ultimate travellers, with approximately half the UK species migrating each year. Some may not go far, yet others undertake truly epic feats of stamina and endurance, crossing oceans, mountains and continents. But how do they do it? Why do they do it? And how has this behaviour come about? Come along to find out.

Well known to many at RHNR, James is a brilliant speaker and has been a passionate birder (and all-round naturalist) since childhood. This will be an excellent and entertaining talk.

He describes ‘I’ve trained my eyes and ears to detect their presence, (birds) both visible and invisible. I’m often to be found scouring the UK countryside (and further afield) for migrant birds. Otherwise, I’m regularly found with a camera, whether it be focused on wildlife, landscape or astronomy. Before returning to my home county of Sussex, I worked for the RSPB managing landscapes, surveying Corncrake and Wader populations and leading guided walks on the Outer Hebrides’.

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st October.

Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Talks

12 October – Cetaceans of Sussex

Saturday 12th October 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by Thea Taylor from the Sussex Dolphin Project.

Join Thea and James from the Sussex Dolphin Project for an evening of information on the whales, dolphins and porpoises found off the Sussex Coast.

The evening will consist of a talk and a Q&A session for you to ask questions about these charismatic but elusive animals.

In the talk, they will cover what their research programme has discovered, the questions still unanswered, how they look to protect our local cetaceans in the future, and the actions they are taking currently.

Thea Taylor is a marine biologist and Managing Director of the Sussex Dolphin Project. She has been involved with SDP since 2018 and has a particular interest in cetacean behaviour and human impacts.

James Milton is a student at the University of Sussex. He is the project support officer with the Sussex Dolphin Project and runs their terrestrial conservation and education section.

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st September.

Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Talks

14 September – The Woman Who Saved Birds

Saturday 14th September 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by Tessa Boase a writer and social historian living in Hastings.

When social historian Tessa Boase told the RSPB she wanted to write their early story, they refused to let her visit their archives. To a former investigative journalist, this was a challenge she could not resist.

This talk brings to life the mighty Victorian and Edwardian plumage ­trade – and the brave eco-feminists who fought back on behalf of the birds. Their leader was Hythe-born Etta Lemon, the passionate and pioneering conservationist who built the early RSPB, but was not remembered by history. What were her campaign tactics, and what is her legacy? 

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st August.

Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Past Events

Talk 11 Nov 2023

Paul Nash and Rye by Jim Northover

Paul Nash – The Rye Marshes, East Sussex (oil on canvas)

Jim Northover came to talk to us about the artist Paul Nash and his association with the Rye area. Paul Nash, who was also well known as a war artist, writer and photographer lived in Rye for a relatively short period 1930-32, however, Rye and the surrounding area heavily influenced his work.

Jim who has a background as a designer, has been fascinated by Paul Nash and has gone to great lengths to research this topic. He gave us an excellent talk which was very well received by the audience and this excerpt from an email afterwards sums up the talk very nicely.

“I’ve never understood Paul Nash’s work and his relevance to our local landscape but the speaker brought his paintings to life in a most remarkable way. This was a brilliant afternoon.”

Talks

10 August – The Dragonflies of Sussex- A good…

Saturday 10th August 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by Alan Martin.

This talk describes changes to the status of dragonflies in Sussex over the last 20 years, focussing on those that can be found in and around Rye.

For many years Alan has been a birder but in more recent years has expanded his interests to include butterflies, moths and now dragonflies.

In the last three years, he has been focused on recording and photographing all the species that can be found in the Rye area, and is currently working on a new book about the Dragonflies of Sussex.

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st July.

Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Talks

13 July – Swifts – Born to Fly

Saturday 13th July 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by Sophie Streeter, Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group

Learn about the fascinating lives of the Common Swift, issues impacting their decline in the UK, and how you can help aid their recovery.

The common swift, an iconic bird that lives its life on the wing, returns to the UK each year to breed, but their drastic decline in the UK has caused them to be red-listed, and at risk of extinction in our skies. This talk will take you on a journey into their fascinating lives, the issues causing their decline, and importantly how we can help to aid their recovery. Packed with details, stunning photos, sounds and videos, Born to Fly aims to increase awareness of these special birds, and hopes to gain new supporters and enthusiasts for the common swifts.

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st June.
Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Talks

11 May – The botanical artist Marianne North

Saturday May 11th 2024 1.30pm – 3pm at the Discovery Centre.

Presented by Rachel Witt.

Born in Hastings in 1830, Marianne North was a brave and unconventional woman.

This talk describes Marianne North’s life exploring the world, the countries she visited and the landscapes and plants she painted. It also explains North’s unusual choice of painting materials which caused problems with varnish removal and how this issue was overcome. The talk shows images of paintings before, during and after treatment and how the restored artworks helped transform the gallery to its former glory.

Rachel Witt is an accredited conservator with over 25 years experience of painting restoration. In 2008 the Marianne North gallery was closed for renovation. At that time, Rachel was entrusted with all the oil on canvas paintings in the gallery as well as the decorative doors and their surrounds and the ornate stencilled coving.

These talks are for members of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve only. There is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. If you are not a member of The Friends but would like to attend, please JOIN US and let us know.

Limited places are available and booking for members of The Friends will open at 8.00am on 1st April.

Please note that dogs (except for guide dogs that have been pre-booked) are not allowed at talks.

Past Events

Talk 14 Oct 2023

Gardening for Insects by Chris Bentley

During the afternoon of ‘Friends’ day on Saturday 14th October, former warden Chris Bentley gave an excellent talk in the Discovery Centre on ‘Gardening for Insects’ to members of The Friends.

Chris is well known both locally and nationally for his passion and expertise relating to insects. Both of these aspects came through in his talk which was very well received by the audience.

His comprehensive talk included facts about the staggering numbers of insects that can be found in gardens, including common insects that we all may be able to identify – perhaps with a little help from technology! He also talked about what insects need and gave suggestions for lots of insect friendly plants and landscape features that can benefit insects.

The importance of insects cannot be underestimated and potentially catastrophic, recent declines are well known and publicised. The BTO suggest that the gardens of the UK make up an area approximately the size of Suffolk, therefore what we do in our gardens is important.

Chris’s talk provided lots of inspiration and as Tesco says ’Every little helps!’

Past Events

Talk 08 Jul 2023

We had another excellent talk on the afternoon of Saturday 8th July. This time from Michael Howard who is a Ranger for the National Trust and came to speak to the Friends of Rye Harbour about Winchelsea Wildlife.

Michael has worked for the National Trust in Winchelsea for 6 years and along with another member of staff and six volunteers is responsible for caring for, monitoring and enhancing the nature value of 1,100 acres of varied habitat in and around Winchelsea.

His very interesting and informative talk focused on the amazing variety of birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, and bees to be found on this National Trust land and the huge task involved in working to make the area even better for wildlife and people. Michael’s stunning photography gave us an insight into the identification, and also the challenges of accurate identification, for monitoring the rare bees and dragonflies that are to be found in the area. His fantastic trailcam footage showed us aspects of wildlife and behaviour that largely go unnoticed. He has set-up several community projects, such as moth trapping in Winchelsea, a Winchelsea wildlife group, and with his group of volunteers, is involved in making and erecting various bird boxes to help with Barn Owl and Swift conservation in the local area.

Thank you to Michael for a wonderful talk and we wish him well with his future plans for the area.