The euphoria surrounding the event of decent rainfall on the reserve Sunday morning was very short-lived. Today is the second day of strong and drying winds, which coupled with warm sunshine have sucked every last drop of moisture back off the reserve and we're back to how we were.
I walked across part of the reserve this morning, seeing very little and being pushed backwards at times by the strength of the wind and decided to complete a circular walk by continuing on round part of the neighbouring farmland. So I took the footpath track that we know as "the gravel road" and headed up it towards Harty church. At the top you can make out the white of the sign-post. (All the photos are best viewed by double clicking on each one and enlarging it)
At the top it's nice to turn round and take in the view across the farmland, the reserve, and out towards the buildings of Shellness Hamlet in the distance.
Here at the top of the track you have the choice of two directions.
I briefly turned left and you can see that alongside Harty Church the derelict old school-house has now been replaced by a newly built bungalow, in which the mother of the four farming brothers will live.
I then re-traced my steps and took the right-hand option, heading down the track with high hedges either side and past The old Forge cottage towards Elliots farmyard on the corner of the Harty Road. It was relatively wind-free going through there and I hoped that I might be able to both hear and see a few migrant thrushes or finches because the hedges were full of berries and the game cover alongside was full of seed. The result surprisingly, was pretty much bugger all, a few Blue Tits and a possible Goldcrest and that was it, has Sheppey been declared a bird-free zone?
Having gone through Elliots farm yard, where there was a sizeable flock of House Sparrows, I then turned right at the Harty Road and begun making my way down the footpath track known to us as "the concrete road". By following the track along the line of bushes winding its way left in the photo you not only get superb views across the Harty farmland but you also end up at Leysdown, its really worth walking. Me, I turned into the small thicket on the right and followed the track through it to get back onto the reserve. This thicket is where I normally see my first Goldcrest of the autumn but again that was not to be today but I did manage a Little Owl, which was calling within yards of me although I never did see it.
It was then just a matter of following the reserve track down to the barn and my car.