Thursday, 21 October 2010
THE SEAWALL FLEET, KNOWN TO US ON THE RESERVE AS "THE DELPH".
It is fringed at the rear by a wide area of phragmites reeds and beyond that there is the top of the seawall. It is currently around 2-3 lower than it would normally be for a lot of the year and in most winters it eventually floods over onto the grassy area to the left, creating a shallow area much favoured by the wildfowl.
Early this morning saw the first frost of this autumn and on the marsh it was quite a hard one. Driving along the Harty Road with a large yellow sun rising and blue skies and white fields, it all looked quite spectacular but I'd forgotten my camera. There were around a dozen or so Corn Buntings on the overhead wires as I drove along the road and a couple of female Marsh Harriers quartered along a narrow section of Capel Fleet by the Raptor Viewing Mound but there was little else of note.
Arriving at the Barn I decided to walk through the reserve to the area we know as "The Banks", a stretch of grassy banks below Harty Church which give excellent views down onto the Swale and across to Oare and Faversham Creek. Four Whooper swans were seen on the Swale there yesterday, plus a Spoonbill, but I saw none of them, just numerous waders and Wigeon on both the Swale and the mudflats. The Wigeon numbers are building up out in the Swale now and most mornings various parties of them fly out from the marshes all around to gradually form largish flocks floating on the tide. Good news unfortunately for one of the Kent Wildfowlers who is that fortunately rare specimen these days, a punt gunner, but more of that in a later blog.
One advantage of being on the reserve is that I get to see the daily return of the Greylag Geese. Pre-dawn they tend to leave the reserve and fly out to alongside Capel Fleet on the Harty Marshes. There they will feed on the young shoots of winter corn, perhaps some of the young rape plants, or on corn itself that is spread along some areas regularly to attract the wildfowl in for shooting purposes. At around 8.30-9.00 a very distant clamouring of geese will be heard and in the distance will be seen two or three large skiens of the geese heading back to the reserve. The closer they get the louder the noise gets and even though its only around three hundred birds it never ceases to provide a superb spectacle for me as they fly down the middle of the reserve, circle round and then "whiffle" down to spend a large part of each day roosting in the same spot alongside The Delph. That spot is normally the grassy area shown in the photo above, very frustrating for the wildfowlers that are often postioned just the other side of the seawall, who cannot shoot too near or over the seawall and the geese know that to the inch!
It must be truly amazing though to see many, many thousands of Pinkfeets flying in like this in East Anglia each day.
Anyway, the frost had jogged my memory about something and so on later leaving the reserve I made my way to a favourite location for sloes. Always best picked after having a frost on them, just like parsnips, I was disappointed to find that there were far fewer this year, but enough for what I wanted them for - Sloe Gin. Such a simple thing to make but a beautiful thing to drink, and I took them home, pricked them, put them in a storage jar with sugar and a litre of gin and licked my lips with anticipation. Nothing like it in late winter when its matured and been bottled and you come in from a freezing cold spell on the marsh!