Blimey, its a week since my last posting and yet the weather fortunately remains identical. I've only made a couple of brief visits during the week, being busy at home.
It was a hot and steamy night in the bedroom last night (purely down to the weather, nothing else) and so at 4.30 I got up and after feeding my canaries was on the reserve by 5.15 in order to catch the cooler conditions, which lasted about half an hour. I'm always amazed that after such a scorching and moisture-less day that yesterday was that there re-appears so much moisture in the form of dew the next morning. After just an hour walking round my trousers were soaked right up to the knees.
The hay baling now seems to have been completed on the neighbouring farmland and despite some gloomy opinions on its scarcity by farmers in the press, Sheppey farmers at least seem to have got in a bumper crop, more good profits this winter I suppose, certainly they made some very good prices for it last winter. Harvesting the Rape is now being started and very close behind it, judging by its colour, is the wheat, so busy times ahead.
So far this summer wildlife on the reserve has thrown up a few noteables - noteable for the fact that numbers are greatly reduced, could it of been because of the severe winter's weather? Take butterflies for instance, whilst most of the regular species are about, so far they have only been recorded, by me at least, in single figures, the exception being a few dozen Meadow Browns. I still haven't seen a Gatekeeper or Skipper and yet other sites appear to be having a very good year. Both Marsh and Edible frogs are also either greatly reduced or just being unusually quiet, normally by now they would be very audible. Lastly, Ragwort is much reduced, and as a result so are the lovely and stripey Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, I'm very happy to see both.
Bird life was predictably quiet, although another reserve regular, Ian Davidson, yesterday had nearly 40 different types. For me the highlight was 5 Green Sandpiper at our last shallow and muddy stretch of ditchwork and a party of 8 Meadow Pipits, the most I've seen in one group of Mipits this whole summer, they've decreased badly here. The swallows in the Tumbledown Hide fledged their four youngsters a week or so ago and are showing no signs of returning for a second brood. This pair have been far exceeded by those at Brewers farmhouse, alongside the reserve. Here the owners have a small cluster of sheds for their horses and the last few years have seen swallow pairs rise to around sixteen pairs. Certainly this summer in recent weeks, the overhead wires to the house have regularly seen groups of 30-40 juveniles sitting along them so the production line seems be being maintained.
Lastly, I was fascinated as I started to walk round this morning, at the sight of a large Elderberry bush with a Heron perched on top of. Silhouetted against the sun the heron looked quite strange perched up there.