In 2017 The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust wardens were excited when two marsh harriers began flying into the far reedbeds at Arundel Wetland Centre in the late afternoons. In 2018 the number of marsh harriers regularly hunting and roosting on the reserve increased to six, then to eight in 2019. This number is holding strong for 2021 according to Reserve Manager Suzi Lanaway.
Suzi spends some chilly hours in the hide on a Sunday once a month to do the official count for the monthly Harrier Roost Survey run by The Hawk and Owl Trust. In recent years the eight birds at Arundel are the largest roosting population recorded in Sussex and the fifth largest concentration of marsh harriers in the Essex-Kent-Sussex area.
Suzi Lanaway said: “The steady number of harriers on our wetland reserve is great news because it shows we have the balance right for managing our wetland habitats.”
The presence of the marsh harriers also indicates the Arun River Valley to be a healthy ecosystem as a whole. To support a large number of hunting raptors like the marsh harrier there must be a multitude of small birds, fish and mammals in the area - to support that population there must be hoards of healthy plants and insects to feed on.”
It is easy for visitors to see the marsh harriers in the Arun River Valley. The birds arrive at Arundel Wetland Centre around 3.45 pm in the afternoon, flying low over the reedbeds before landing in the reeds to spend the night. The marsh harriers often make a few passes before landing. The best views are from the Scrape hide and the Reedbed hide and you will need binoculars.
Look out for little egrets and pied wagtails roost in numbers at Arundel Wetland Centre as well. Visitors must be back in the visitor centre when Arundel Wetland Centre closes at 4.30 pm.
The wild birds, ducks and geese currently around the reserve can be found on our sightings page HERE