Saturday, 30 October 2010


For some reason my PC will not allow me to insert photos into this epistle so it's a tad nude, sorry.

I was on the verandah of the Seawall Hide this morning in the dark and waiting for dawn to happen. It was for no particular reason other than than as a habitual early riser I get peed off at this time of the year having to walk around the house waiting so long for it to get light in the mornings. So today I said sod it and left home in the dark. Those lovely, misty, early dawns of 4.00 onwards in the summer seem so far away at this time of the year but thankfully after tonight, we have dawn starting an hour early for a while, joy, why couldn't it be two hours early!

So anyway, there I was, standing in the dark as the first glimmers of light appeared over Shellness, something made easier because of a cloudless sky above. Its surprising how quick that it gets light, a couple of small patches above quickly become a much lighter sky and the visible horizon gets further away by the minute. Lapwings begin to "peewit" to each other, Curlews on the mudflats begin to call, two Water Rails, a hundred yards apart in the reed beds "mew" to each other and a light breeze stirs the reedbed tops.

As it gradually became much lighter I was startled to find that I was not alone in this space, just a hundred yards away on the saltings in front of me were the heads of two wildfowlers. Scary, but that's how it is on the Swale nature reserves these days and to emphasise that fact, just fifteen minutes later, two really loud gunshots echoed around The Swale as shooters shot at something from what sounded like the seawall of the Oare reserve, a mile or so away. Judging by the depth of sound that the shots created I imagine that they must of been using the more powerful cartridges designed to kill geese, perhaps Oare has lost a goose or two.

The light increased by the minute to expose a lovely blue sky and Bearded Tits "pinged" in the reedbeds alongside me as I made my way back to the top of the seawall and headed towards Shellness. Before I got that far though, I decided to cut back across the farmland and re-enter the reserve in it's northern corner. As I got there Mallard had begun leaving their corn-fed ditches below Muswell Manor and were dropping into one of the reserve's boundary ditches, don't know why, we don't feed them, but they're very welcome.

I walked back across the reserve, through the cattle that were reluctant to stand aside as Midge and I walked through them, past the old Salt Workings mounds that used to be home to hundreds of rabbits but now house none and headed towards the car.
What of birds - well there were some of the usuals about - Kestrels, Harriers, Coots, ducks, Greylags and some buntings and finches but nothing out of the ordinary and I'll leave it to other Blogs to write long lists of all the same stuff every day, surely it must get boring?


  1. Never get bored of birds Derek ! you see your same caged birds every day and you're not bored of them are you :-) Heh heh heh

    don't get too used to the extra hour mate, there are plans (yet again) to deprive us dawn lovers of that extra hours light in the morning :-(

  2. Warren,

    I don't get bored of birds but don't see the need to write endless lists of pretty much the same birds.
    Hopefully us early birds won't be deprived of the early starts that putting the clocks back gives for a while.

  3. Derek,
    Those endless lists, will, in time, become a valuable insight into what once could be found in the local countryside.

    I wish someone had kept records for pittswood 100 years ago, it would be a fascinating read.

    PS Come on you blues!! :-)