In the late afternoons, from late October through February, marsh harriers arrive to roost in the reedbeds at Arundel Wetland Centre. Last year Our Reserve Team counted up to ten marsh harriers arriving to stay overnight in the SSSI reedbed.
The best spots to see the harriers is from the comfort of the Scrape hide or along the long path between these two hides for uninterrupted views of the whole sky. Our Reedbed hide is closed for repairs.
Harriers began roosting at Arundel Wetland Centre in 2017 with just two marsh harriers. In 2018 the number of marsh harriers regularly hunting and roosting on the reserve increased to six, then to eight in 2019 and 2021. Reserve Manager Suzi Lanaway spends some chilly hours in the Scrape hide on a Sunday once a month to do the official count from WWT Arundel for the monthly Harrier Roost Survey run by The Hawk and Owl Trust. In recent years the harriers 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 from the hides at Arundel Wetland Centre from about 3 pm-4.15 pm. The harriers fly low over the reedbeds, making a few passes before landing. We recommend you bring your binoculars. We ask that visitors be back inside the centre when Arundel Wetland Centre closes at 4.30 pm. In the late afternoon also look out for little egrets roost and pied wagtails roost at Arundel Wetland Centre as well.
We are staying open an extra hour on Wednesday 8 November and Saturday 11 November to the Evening Roost. For details see our event here.
Ready to come and see the marsh harrier roost? If you've been inspired to explore Arundel Wetland Centre, find out more and book your visit online.