Getting up at 05.30 this morning, as I do every day, there was clear blue skies and sunshine. I quickly cleaned and fed my canaries and with clouds beginning to appear to the west in an increasing wind I quickly sped off to Shellness Hamlet in the hope of enjoying a sunny spell on the Point there. The sign below will explain why I was there but it wasn't to be under sunny skies, with some speed the clouds arrived just after me and out on the Point under cloudy skies and in a surprisingly cold and gusty wind it was very un-June like.
Just 5 weeks ago I was reading how June and July were going to be heatwave months, with temperatures sometimmes exceeding 100 degrees but with the Longest Day only two days away and this unsettled weather forecast to last well in to July, it seems we're about to miss out on some long and balmy evenings this year.
With the tide out this morning there wasn't too many birds to see along the beach, although there were a few Barwits out on the mudflats. Along the upper reaches of the beach there were some Ringed Plovers with chicks of various ages, some nesting Oystercatchers, some Little Terns and two my surprise, a Red-legged Partridge with some two/three day old chicks!
As you can see from the two photos below, a large stretch of beach is roped off and explanatory signs giving the reason why but we still find the public inside this area, fishermen being the worst offenders. Its amazing how some people still can't accept that some bits of countryside, even on nature reserves, still need to be out of bounds, normally for obvious reasons as the sign states. The whole point of a nature reserve is to preserve a special piece of habitat from both disturbance and damage for both posterity and wildlife but some people, including those interested in these things, still need some convincing at times when you say you can't go there.
Also on the beach I found a few specimens of my favourite caterpiller, of the Cinnabar Moth, feeding on the much maligned Ragwort plant.
Yesterday a rare event occurred, I travelled off of Sheppey to visit another nature reserve, part of the Stodmarsh complex at Grove Ferry. Dave Rogers, one of Natural England's Kent Team managers had recently voluntary left NE (its a job to see how NE can continue to exist as a credible force for many more years with lack of workforce and finances) and had invited friends and ex-colleagues down to Grove Ferry for a two hour walk round and then an excellent buffet at lunch time in the Grove Ferry Inn.
We walked round the section opposite the Inn and it was the first time I had ever been there and it was nice to see places I've seen written about many times such as The Ramp and the David Feast hide, especially as David Feast was with us. However, for me, as well as the fact that there was far too much reed bed and not enough open water, it was a quiet day birdwise and little of note was seen. Mind you, given the fact that much time was spent looking down to avoid numerous dog poos along the paths, that could of been the reason, they certainly do seem to have a problem down there with un-curteous dog walkers.
It was lovely scenery though and must be great in winter when there is more flooding and winter wildfowl numbers are higher and the Inn was great inside and serves a nice pint of Sheps.