Monday, 4 April 2011

The Reserve This Morning

(Double click on each photo to enlarge)

On the way to the reserve early this morning I stopped along the Harty Road to take this photo at Capel Hill Farm, which shows how harmony can be achieved between colours.

These new arrivals on the reserve looked charming in the early sun, the calves are Red Devon/Aberdeen Angus crosses.

Here you can see them with the low tide Swale and the mainland in the background.
Both cattle and sheep are vital tools on nature reserves, helping to create ideal grass sward heights for the various breeding birds.

Conditions on the reserve first thing were quite ideal, with unbroken sunshine and stillness and sounding quite weird as the mournful cries of Peacocks drifted across the fields from their home alongside Harty Church.
Bouyed by the fact that Sedge Warblers have been seen at Oare, just across The Swale, I walked the whole length of the wide Delph reedbeds hoping to hear one but to no avail, its normally a week or two later before they hop across the water. I ended up in the seawall hide, suitably sat amongst the reedbeds, where I waited for ages for a pair of Bearded Tits to come into clear camera range but they stubbornly stayed below reed top height, the little buggers.
One of the forms of entertainment in this particular hide is the graffiti from the visitors. Most of it refers to alleged sexual activities and positions in there, so if you ever see steam coming out of the viewing flaps anytime, I'd walk on by if I was you.

I continued on my way and had a wander along some of the reserve ditches, looking in vain for a first Coot's nest. Most years, some Coots on the reserve have their first nests by mid-March but so far this year I haven't found any, which is odd, although Coot numbers are lower this Spring out there.
I did find however, some nice clumps of White Dead Nettle, as below.

One of the features of the reserve over the last ten years has been the resident flock of white geese that originally flew down from Harty Church and decided to stay. They raise some goslings every year and normaly total 20-30 birds and have now also started hybidising with the feral Greylags there - see the two photos below.

They also serve another purpose during the winter months in that being weak flyers they provide meals for the local foxes, six were killed this winter, we can't have foxes being denied their rightful meals, can we.
Likewise, I found this freshly opened Greylag's egg this morning, it and no doubt many more to come, will have helped a poor Crow from going hungry!


  1. Nice photos and good to see all the signs of new life there Derek. Not so good to read of the misuse of the hide though. No telling how many birds they miss while otherwise occupied!!

    A shame you didn't hear the Sedge Warblers but good to read on the previous post that you saw the first Wheatear of the year.

  2. I don't know Jan, with the viewing flaps open and the right position, two birds with one stone comes to mind!