Yesterday was our monthly WEBS day.
For the uninitiated, WEBS stands for the Wetland Birds Survey. It is a survey that is carried out nationaly to count the high tide roosts of wetland birds such as wildfowl and waders and as much as possible on the same high tide, on the same day, each month. Some teams however only carry out the survey for the six winter months and this appears to be the case on Sheppey apart from our three man team at The Swale NNR. We carry out the survey for the whole of each year, which I personally find a bit of a waste of time if Elmley isn't also being counted and I don't really understand why Elmley do leave those months blank.
Anyway, we carried out ours yesterday around the 17.45 high tide, which as it happened turned into a beautifuly warm and sunny part of the day. My section is the middle marsh and surrounding farm fields of the reserve which as was expected due to the dry conditions, turned up very low numbers of birds. The birds were pretty much all concentrated into the one muddy length of the "S" ditch and whilst a reasonably good list of birds, was made up pretty much with just ones and twos of most. The best count for me was one of 40 newly arrived Teal and 40 Golden Plover.
I haven't seen the other two lists of birds counted at the reserve's high tide roosts at Shellness and Harty yet but do know that over 1,000 Curlew and several thousand Oystercatcher were at Shellness Point.
Like I said earlier, one of the joys of being out there late afternoon/early evening yesterday was the fact that after a windy and gloomy day the evening became calm, sunny and warm. With combine harvesters working furiously away in the cornfields nearby and swallows and martins passing constantly across the sky, it made for an extremely beautiful and calming time to be there. Unfortunately as I soaked in this golden light and scenery two guys approached along the seawall with labradors. Have you already guessed - yes it was two approaching local wildfowlers. Now I know I constantly bang on about these people and everybody has different outlooks on life but these two guys had simply walked along there to weigh up the numbers of wildfowl that there were about and the prospect for shooting them in two weeks time. Now how could your main interest on such a beautiful evening be in both killing and removing the birds from that picture. Am I suffering from too much melancholy?