A second day of very warm and sometimes sunny weather, could this really be summer starting, or are we just briefly between NE's. Whatever it turns out to be I'm enjoying every minute of it, decorating started during last week's depression (me and the weather) has now been been left unfinished. There's only me here so bare bedroom walls are not a problem, just magnifies the "where am I" strangeness when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Being able to walk round the reserve at 7.30 in the morning in just light clothes and in a heat haze is also a real treat - so, so comfortable, no heavy coat, no hands in pockets, no stooped against the cold wind. I was greeted as I pulled up at the Barn by two Sedge Warblers, a hundred yards apart, trying to out-sing each other and hopefully they indicate two breeding pairs. Reddish coloured Darters patrolled up and down the track in the sun and if the bloody things had alighted for a while I might have been able to identify if they were Common or Ruddy's - perhaps that's why they're called Ruddy's.
I wandered across the now quite long grazing meadows, making for the seawall and harried all the way by a pair of Lapwings and several Redshanks that obviously still had chicks unfledged. The seawall directly in front of the reserve has been spared the attention of the Environment Agency's masochistic tractor mower and is a tangle of long, varied and seeding grasses interspersed by masses of yellow Goatsbeard flowers and the long-leaved but tiny-flowered Grass Vetchling. Must be every Environment Agency manager's midnight nightmare but boy is habitat like that home to a multitude of various flora and fauna.
On the saltings the white-flowered Scurvy Grass has now finished flowering and has been replaced by lovely pink drifts of Armeria Maritama - Thrift. On the mixed saltings vegetation I also noticed that some of it was adorned with gossamer tents and a closer inspection found these to be home to large numbers of Ground Lackey Moth caterpillars. These moths are a speciality of the Swale NNR saltings and every year in July the footpath on top of the seawall will often see large numbers of these colourful caterpillars as they come ashore to pupate in the long grass.
Latly, I took a walk across a hay meadow between the reserve and the Shellness car park, part of the neighbouring farmland. Several years ago this field and those carrying on from it all the way round to the Raptor Viewing Mound on the Harty Road, were sterile arable fields. However the farmer, no doubt buoyed by reasonable subsidies, but who cares in this case, decided to revert the fields to grazing marsh. He re-seeded them with a mixture of grasses, clovers and vetches and after a poor start due to the part flooded/part bone-dry conditions, the fields have now made superb hay fields that are grazed by cattle in the winter and cut for hay in July.
To walk through them now is like going back in time, they are full of so many insects, grasshoppers and butterflies and it is one of those times when farmers and subsidies work together in the right direction.
My oh My, what a morning.