Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fabulous and Hot

Wow, here in Kent at the moment the weather is hot and sticky and quite fabulous, unless of course you're one of these people who thinks that great is staring out of a window at cold and wet weather.
Anyway, leaving those people to their dreams of damp and winter and miry ways, the reserve is at the height of summerness at the moment. Evident in the ditches, that have very little water in them, an inch of water and two foot of black mud. Every time that Midge goes in to cool off she comes out as two-tone black and white.
The grazing marsh is just as dry, and walking across it you are struck by how dry and yellow it is, even the green bits have no moisture in them and you wonder what the hell sustinence the cattle get from it at the moment.
Its not some drastic scene, its how the traditional North Kent marshes are without artificial means, waterlogged in winter and bone dry in summer and wildlife knows how to cope with it.
Have a look at the "S Bend Ditch " today, it's finally given up the ghost and dried out, just as it did last year, and yet for a few months in the winter it will be impassable and full of wildfowl.

The bulldozer has been busy over the last few days improving or creating shallow rills across the grazing marsh. They will look a bit ugly for a few months until weather conditions alter them, but this time next year they should have already increased various wader production during the breeding season by providing shallow and muddy, insect filled areas for the chicks.

On the neighbouring farmland there was that traditional scene of fresh cut corn fields and straw bales, what a great sight, and all day long trailers and lorries were collecting the bales and taking them away ahead of tomorrow's forecast heavy rain.

The big plus with this hot weather has been the number of butterflies that have been on the wing. This Common Blue was one of many hundreds out and about across the grazing marsh this morning.

And lastly, just after getting home from the reserve this morning, Rod Smith, a fellow Volunteer, rang to say that he had just seen a Maid of Kent beetle in a fresh cow pat - their favourite habitat. This beetle was classed as extinct in the country until one was re-discovered at Elmley RSPB in 1997 and even now they remain rarely seen. This particular one was a first for the reserve and happy evidence that they are spreading on Sheppey. Shame I missed it but, rain permitting tommorow, I shall be about early on the reserve trying to find another.


  1. I am with you on the heat, Derek - heat beats cold any day of the year! And I am saying this after one of the hottest Julys the US has ever experienced. Hope you find your Maid of Kent beetle.


  2. Wilma,

    Unfortunately our heat has only lasted a few days and will end today but we're obviously on the same wavelength - good to hear from you again.