Wow, I had a fabulous wander round part of the reserve and the neighbouring farmland early this morning in near perfect weather. Clear blue skies, warm sunshine, and for once, only light winds. It was one of those days when you didn't bother with counting things, you just enjoyed being immersed in all the joys of a summer's morning in the countryside and let everything else go over your head.
The first part of my walk took me through part of the reserve where I came across both the Spiney Restharrow and Poppies below. Spiney Resharrow is extremely well named, double click on the photo to enlarge it and look at its spines, its quite viscious and is found in large numbers in one particular field.
Walking past the "S Bend Ditch" there were several Little Egrets, a good number of Black-tailed Godwits and three Green Sandpipers all utilizing the shallow water and soft mud. Its the second day running that the Green Sandpipers have been there and possibly indicates that autumn migration is beginning to start, despite its name it normally does in July.
A depressing observation there was the sight of a couple of rabbits with myxamatosis. Having been culled to near extinction last winter there have been encouraging signs that their numbers were re-building again but the return of this annual disease will quickly reduce them again - its a real pain because the reserve needs a decent number of rabbits as part of the food chain.
After a little more meandering around the reserve and finding little else of note I left the reserve and began to walk across part of the neighbouring farmland. Along the track-sides here large clumps of Marshmallow and Black Horehound seemed to have been energised by the sun and the warmthand were offering themselves up to every passing bee or butterfly. In the main this was mostly Large and Green-veined Whites and some Meadow Browns but I wasn't worried about their ordinaryness, I just took the time to sit amongst it all for awhile and enjoy it. See this Green-veined White on Horehound (a poor photo I'm afraid).
Even Midge got in on the act and sat there and watched the world go by.
Returning on my journey round I arrived at the very eastern end of Capel Fleet. Originally it would of continued past here before entering The Swale half a mile or so further on but a new seawall and part reclamation many years ago left it ending here in its original form. The large reed beds either side have gradually reduced its width but it still remains an attractive piece of habitat that this morning was ringing with the calls of many Bearded Tits.
Sandwiched between the end of Capel Fleet and the reserve are two fields that the RSPB aquired a couple of years ago with the intention of adding to the grazing marsh habitat there. After landscaping them last year they were then sown last autumn with grass seed and some other beneficial mixtures. This year the two fields have been allowed to run to seed so far and look a tad overgrown as the photo below shows.
However, its what they're overgrown with that matters. In those fields, all going to seed, there is a wide range of grasses, rape, corn, barley, marshmallow, Sow thistle, and a really valuable grass, known to us locals as Canary Grass. (See below) It appears a lot around Harty as it is in the mixtures that the two farmers sow around their field edges as cover/field strips for both game birds and wild birds. Its seeds are well loved by the smaller birds and, as its name implies, by canaries, and mine have been almost reared on the stuff this year.
What it means is that when these fields are cut in the near future they are going leave behind a real harvest of food for a whole range of birds this autumn and winter. Great stuff!
And finally, I'll leave you with some opening words from the Wind in the Willows - Chapter Seven.
"The Willow-Wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o'clock at night, the sky still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from the departed day; and the sullen heats of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short mid-summer night. Mole lay stretched on the bank, still panting from the stress of the fierce day that had been cloudless from dawn to late sunset.......it was still too hot to think of staying indoors, so he lay on some cool dock leaves, and thought over the past day and its doings, and how good they all had been".
How sad that some people cannot enjoy such days!