I've just come back from an early morning wander round the reserve and Wow! what a difference to my posting of just a couple of days ago. To park at the barn and walk through the five-bar gate into such beautiful habitat and weather is a real privilege, and it costs nothing. With a really warm sun beating down, just a light NE breeze and everything lush and colourful the reserve looked as good as it possibly could do.
And so much wildlife going on, not just the obvious bird life that dominates your eyes and ears - even an ordinary looking ditch, if you get down to its level, has so much going on. Marsh frogs, damselfles and dragonflies are easily seen along its length, but in the water itself there are swarms of water fleas, stickleback young, water boatmen, snails, etc,etc. So often we walk past a ditch and dismiss it, but actually taking the trouble to do what we used to do as kids and dangle oneself over or alongside it, can reap enormous benefits, it is heaving with life that you don't normally see and its worth spending time looking at that under-water world.
I did what I so often do on mornings like today and walked across the grazing marsh and up onto one of the numerous sets of old Salt Working Mounds that are dotted across the reserve. I have never been able to find out exactly how they functioned in the production of salt but they form excellent vantage points from which to just sit and take in the day and its views. The one big advantage that a marshland habitat has, regardless of the time of year or the weather, is the big skies and the distant views, not for me being hemmed in by trees and things as you are so often inland.
And what of the four points of view that I had as I sat there. Well to the north and the west the farmland is pretty much split into two halves. The westward rises quickly towards Harty Hill and the church and is made up of small arable fields, each surrounded by thick and overgrown hedging and some small thickets of medium sized trees. It is perfect habitat for all manner of wildlife and does come up trumps in a big way on those points. The more northerly farmland, which stretches all the way to Leysdown, is pretty much dominated by a mixture of flat arable and grazing marsh with almost no hedging at all, just the typical marshland scene that you see as you come along the Harty Road.
To the east the reserve stretches out towards Shellness Hamlet, the sea, the wind turbines on the Kentish Flats and Herne Bay. Despite being the most remote and bleakest part of the reserve it has the beauty of the ever-changing shell beach jutting out into the entrance to The Swale, and views across to Seasalter and Herne Bay and distant Reculver.
And lastly, and probably the best, is the view looking south. It looks onto the seawall fleet and its large reed beds, the seawall itself, the saltings, The Swale, Seasalter, Faversham Creek and Oare, and behind them all, the woodlands of the North Downs. This morning, despite it being low tide, The Swale sparkled beautifully in the sun, the seawall reed beds were full of the sound of Sedge and Reed Warblers and overhead was one of my favourite sounds, the calls of two passing Med. Gulls. Even the mound that I was sitting on began to come back to life as I sat there, for it is normally home to a good colony of rabbits. Despite by being ravaged by over-zealous pest controls in the winter, dare I say it, a few baby rabbits began to come out to play in the sun - delightful, and hopefully something to be left better alone this winter.
So, to take the time to enjoy the sights that we often don't notice or rarely record, can be quite magical and can be much more enjoyable than simply recording the same repeat list of birds each day. The Four Points of View, if you have them where you are, are worth recording.