Saturday, 20 March 2010

Springing back

Encouraged by regular postings on Kent-Birders in recent days (good old K-B,) I went down to the reserve earlier this morning to once again hunt for the elusive migrants. Mind you, on arrival it seemed as though Spring had taken a step backwards, I was met by strong winds, grey skies and bouts of drizzle. Undaunted I made my way round to the Tower Hide and sat in there to get the best views, whilst being gently rocked by the gusty SW wind. Unfortunately the only birds that I saw simply maintained that wintery feel, Wigeon, Teal, Golden Plover, a ring-tail Hen Harrier and around 80 Fieldfares. It was noticeable however that the wildfowl numbers had plummetted over the last couple of days as breeding duties elsewhere called, and a combined total only came to around 400 birds.
Despite my mood matching the grey skies, there was one glimmer of sunshine however, a Grey Wagtail appeared close to the hide, a rarity on Sheppey.
So, still no spring migrants, but tomorrow is another day as they say and I shall return with renewed hope.

Returning to one of my previous postings on the subject of rabbits, I was on another site on Sheppey the other day, where rabbits used to abound in large numbers, but have now, for better or worse, been "controlled" down to a trickle. I stopped to speak to two local rabbiters, who were just finishing and questioned if they'd been successful that morning. They gloomily showed me their total catch of just four rabbits and invited me to feel how "poor" they were. And they were just that, just skin and bone and with no fat content around their kidneys at all. Apparently that has been the case with a lot of the rabbits caught and killed this winter, presumably the result of the prolonged cold weather and little fresh vegetation causing them to live off their fat. In that condition it obviously means that they have little value as a food product or to game dealers.
I can only assume that while the rabbiters instincts surely tell them that they should now be leaving the rabbits alone till next season, if they want to maintain their permission to continue, then they still have to show willing. Not how it used to be!

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