Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mellow Dawns

The unseasonal hot, cloudless and sunny weather this week has been fantastic and none more than the sunrises and sunsets, they have been spectacular. Most mornings this week I have been on the reserve around dawn to enjoy that pre-dawn chill that rapidly changes to post-dawn heat. The photo below was the sun rising this morning over Seasalter and being reflected in The Swale. Surprisingly as well this morning, there was very little mist, just a few whisps along the ebbing Swale.

Withe the sunrise comes that warm glow and blanket silence that always seems especially noticeable in autumn. Double click on the photo below and enlarge it and enjoy the peaceful and mellow scene at Harty Ferry in The Swale at 07.30 this morning.
I began my walk on the reserve by walking along the top of the seawall, with The Swale to my left and the reed beds of the Delph fleet to my right. And having mentioned the blanket silence above, that was the case apart from the constant "barking" calls of around 400 Brent Geese feeding on the mudflats on the Seasalter side of The Swale, they appear to have come back in early good numbers this year. A few Bearded Tits and Reed Buntings called from the tops of the reed beds and one or two few Wrens busily made their way through the reed stems as they will now for the winter to come. A couple of Green Sandpipers and a Heron got up from the increasing muddy fringes of the Delph fleet and that was pretty much it bird-wise. Oh, all that is, except for a Green Woodpecker that got up in front of me as I turned onto the grazing for my return journey. Its odd to think of these birds as regular birds of the marsh here, rather than just woodlands, but the large numbers of ant-hills spread across the marsh provide them with an easy supply of both ants and their young, which they quite like.
Making my across the marsh I marvelled at what the herd of cattle are still finding to eat from the parched and yellow fields, but they still look in really good condition so must be doing OK. It'll only be a few weeks now till the calves are taken away from their mothers for weaning which is saddening for a few days as you hear the mothers calling for their young, but its all part of the farming year.

On the subject of the farming year, this is the scene across much of Harty at the moment, huge fields tilled and re-sown with winter corn and sitting there dust dry now as they wait for rain to germinate the seed.

Its not all bad though because around many of the fields are the regular cover strips of maize and various seeding crops, created especially for the game shooting interests and to provide food for numerous wild birds. Currently coming into seed is a type of millet that finches and buntings feed on all winter, as well as the Red-Legs of course. Enlarge the picture to get a better idea of what it looks like, its the whispy stuff right alongside the taller maize, with some sow-thistle seed heads amongst it. What great wild bird feeding areas for the winter.

To prove the point of how it benefits the smaller birds I took a selection home for my canaries, who eagerly pounced on it and fed from it.

One last comment on this current hot and seemingly mid-summer weather is how confusing it gets early evening when, instead of carrying on until 9-10 o'clock, the light suddenly goes and it starts getting dark at 6.30.

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