Sunday, 24 July 2011

Summer Really but Seems like Autumn

It's only been several days but it seems like ages since I posted my last blog but then it seems like ages since we've had both a few days of hot and sunny weather and anything interesting to write.
I got up this morning buoyed by forecasts of unbroken sunshine for most of the day and warmer temperatures, and walked round the reserve under grey skies and a strong N. wind, OK it's cheering up as I write this but summer it ain't, it's so autumnal. This is borne out most mornings by the fact that pretty much all the bird life on the reserve is made up of autumnal passage waders, there were 22 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank on the soft mud of the "S Bend Ditch" this morning. We're also in that silly season where Oare reserve on the other side of The Swale are having to lift sluice boards to release excess water and expose mud and yet on our reserve its getting so dry that every time a cow pees we see it as a blessing.
See the photo below of a ditch that I have posted photos of a few times this year to monitor the water dropping and now consider that the crossing plank was under water in February.
The winter is long enough most years without it almost starting at this time of the year, a run of hot and sunny days would be so nice please before this alleged summer finally ends, it would also be nice if it did happen, if a few people didn't moan about it.

Continuing round the reserve this morning I made my way up on to the seawall and spent a pleasant half an hour or so talking to some KWCA wildfowlers - yes, it's only five weeks away! There were six of them - two regulars showing four new members the shooting areas and explaining to them the do's and dont's. I enjoyed the chat and we discussed breeding birds, farming practices, shooting prospects, etc. One subject of concern to us all was the fact that over the last few years, that once very common and iconic duck of the countryside, the Mallard, has continued to decline in numbers quite badly nationwide - who'd of ever thought it. But we've seen it on the reserve in recent years, very few broods of Mallard ducklings are being found or recorded. Let's hope the decline can be arrested and it doesn't go down the same path as the Grey Partridge, will it cause duck shooters to show restraint in respect of such knowledge, I doubt it in the immediate future,especially those that shoot large bags around the commercial ponds.

A visit to Shellness Point one morning last week to look for an albino Herring Gull that was impersonating an Icelandic Gull was fruitless but I did record a new wild flower for the reserve, a large clump of Ploughman's Spikenard, which I somehow walked away from without photographing, bloody stupid, so you'll have to look it up but it's a tallish plant with pretty featureless flowerheads.
Alongside that plant on the upper part of the beach at the Point was also a huge spread of quite thick lichen, I haven't a clue what it's called but it's very impressive and is shown below.

I also found several plants of Sea Holly, which I quite like and which has an improved version that is popular in garden planting.

And lastly, back on the reserve, the Teasel is in flower and despite having quite minimal flower heads, seems to be very attractive to both bees and butterflies as this Red Admiral shows.

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