(All photos can be enhanced by double clicking on them and enlarging)
It was an increasingly gloomy walk round the reserve early today, gloomy in that it started out fairly sunny but the sky soon clouded over quite darkly. There was still a fresh wind blowing as well, although it had become more S.E. rather than the chilly E. of recent days.
There was also the first inkling of the quieter days to come as a dry summer sets in. The resident birds are now breeding and so less conspicuous and with far fewer summer birds around compared with the large numbers of winter birds, then things do tend to get a tad quiet. I did however come across a Sparrowhawk this morning along the seawall, busy plucking a male Reed Bunting.
In order to maintain interest on the walks round whilst we await the arrival of things like butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies, the plant life comes to the fore. In my own limited way I aim to show some of this as the summer plods on, although the flowers tend not to be as exciting and colourful as the ones that regularly feature in other blogs - marsh plants tend to be more subtle and subdued.
Coming through the farm thicket to unlock the reserve gate this morning, I was struck by just how much it has re-grown this Spring. This first photo was taken in March.
This was taken from almost the same spot this morning. It is obvious why several pairs of Whitethroats love it so much.
In one or two places where the grass used to be grazed short by rabbits we have largish clumps of this sorrel - Sheep's Sorrel, I believe.
And along the seawall, the first dog-rose flower - a simple beauty that no HT rose can match. (poor focus I'm afraid)
On the saltings, the first flowers of Thrift (Armeria Maritima) are starting to appear.
On the subject of the dry weather and its effect on the reserve, this photo shows the footpath along the top of the seawall and how it is pulling apart in the dryness. This was a boggy, mudbath in the winter and now look at it. It is like this for a lot of it's length and dodgy for the cyclists that use it.
A few weeks ago I posted a shot of the newly-emerging Mare's Tail in one of the ditches, this is taken from the same spot and shows how quickly it can clog up and spoil a ditch.
This also shows Mare's Tail beginning to spread out into the Delph Fleet but more interesting is the pale tide-mark along the reeds in the background. It demonstrates how much the water has dropped due to the dry weather over the last month.
A few of the Red Devons happily grazing in The Flood.
The remaining feral Greylags on the reserve. These birds tend to disperse all across Harty during the summer months, leaving just a few pairs to breed on the reserve. However, regular as clockwork, come the 1st September there will normally be around 300+ back for the winter.