Monday, 29 August 2011

Autumn Blues

My, its over a week since my last posting but to be honest there hasn't been that much occurring, despite going to the reserve every day, and as I said in my last post, we are pretty much marking time until something does.
The last two mornings I have arrived at the reserve at first light and been lucky to see the sun rise up over the horizon both times and the photo below doesn't really capture the stillness and beauty of it as it rose over Shellness.

My reason for being so early was to hopefully bump into a wildfowler who I have known for a few years now and who always visits the reserve a few days before the shooting season starts to get an idea of what's about wildfowl wise, which this year, is pretty much naff all. As I probably mentioned this time last year this guy has been involved with the countryside for most of his sixty odd years and we always spend a pleasant hour chatting about shooting and the countryside in general. This guy's knowledge comes from a lifetime's experience in the field, not from watching Springwatch or reading birds magazines and despite the solitary nature of his sport he still doesn't find it necessary to whinge on about other countyside users such as walkers and dog owners.
So we sat there for an enjoyable while, swapped experiences of all things countryside, and watched the sun rise up into the sky, I enjoyed it.

After leaving him I made my way along the seawall to the end of the Delph fleet, which as you can see, is also starting to recede from the drought, and began to walk back across the marsh. The passage waders are still around in small numbers, utilizing the mud in the ditches and I put up several Green Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank as I walked along. The reserve's first Whinchat of the autumn was also making its way along the Delph reed bed tops, which with the waders was another reminder that we are going into the autumn, not a pleasant thought.

For me the autumn is the forerunner of the winter, the one season that I absolutely hate. By October I find myself kind of holding my breath, and not letting it out until March, in one huge sigh of relief and I just get through the winter as best as I can. Seems stupid I know, especially to those people that like cold, rain, snow, mud, gales and above all horribly short daylight hours, but me, I don't.
I really hate those short days, those brief scurries between dawn and dusk, when there's no before breakfast and no after dinner, its all darkness. I love those long warm and sunny days when you can pack a whole raft of things in up till ten o'clock at night, how can anybody like darkness at 4.30 in the afternoon?

And yet as much as I hate it, I sometimes find myself perversely thinking of nice winter things, such as a cold afternoon's bird counting and getting home to be warmed up by that first sampling of this year's Sloe Gin. Foggy days, I quite like the fog, and I suppose best of all, The Shortest Day, that lovely day in December when you know that from now on, minute by extending minute, the days are getting longer - yes that day alone is worth having winter for!


  1. I know what you mean Derek. I'm looking forward to a cold seawatch in freezing temperatures and heavy rain/wind but with a warm flask in the bag. Sad isn't it!

  2. Each to his own Marc and good for you, me I'm a warm weather person. When I'm sitting there on a frozen January afternoon doing a Harrier Roost count, I don't enjoy it anywhere near as much as watching butterflies and birds on a hot afternoon.

  3. Derek,
    I was about to email you to complain that I was missing my regular Sheppey 'fix' !
    As much as I loved tramping around Harty and elsewhere in the summer months, I'm with Marc re the cold, winter days - there is something really satisfying about sinking into a warm armchair after a cold day on the marsh counting waders, etc. Mind you, if I suffered with my feet as you do, I might not be quite so keen !

  4. You summed up my feeling perfectly, Derek. The short, cold days are depressing in their sheer number. Individually, the days aren't bad, especially with a new snowfall under a blue sky, but overall I could happily do without any winter at all. Oh - I guess that is why we are moving to Belize soon. :-)


  5. Blimey Wilma, lucky you. Despite its reputation, the one place I could happily live after holidaying there a few times, is Jamaica.
    Keep us posted on how your move goes.