I've just returned from my usual early morning visit to the reserve and having once again endured the permanent Northerly wind tunnel that is Kent at the moment, its difficult to sound positive. Yet again this morning found me wrapped up against grey skies and a cold wind and walking round in conditions very much like you would expect in March/April - how many times have we made those remarks this summer!
One effect of this continuous wind on the reserve is its drying effect on the water levels and by marking a ditch level and re-checking it just a couple of days later you can see it has lowered and this is particually obvious in any shallow pools left on the marsh, they have virtually all dried up.
The first thing that I encountered was a dead hedgehog - definitely dead but I did at first wonder, given the weather, if it had been fooled into thinking it was time to hibernate again.
What else, oh yes, a final total of about 180 Blackwits trickled their way along the saltings towards Shellness and dropped into the saltings to wait for the tide to recede. They appeared to have been coming from the daily roost over at the Oare nature reserve. I noticed last summer that they appeared to have a daily flight-line between the mudflats off Leysdown/Shellness for feeding and then back to Oare to roost.
A pair of Barn Owls were out daylight hunting for food for their chicks and even allowed me to walk to within yards of them as they sat on fence posts. The two birds are noticeable different in colour in as much as one is much whiter than the other, especially on the upper parts.
Hares have appeared on the reserve a lot more this year and are seen every day now and this is a really pleasing event. Harty in general maintains a very healthy Hare population and by spreading onto the reserve it will help protect these animals from the increasing amount of hare hunting that takes place now on the farmland.
No butterflies or dragonflies this morning but then hardly expected in the conditions.