Well it hasn't been the brightest of days today, so I stayed at home and didn't visit the reserve at all. But although its been gloomy it certainly hasn't been cold, almost warm in fact and especially so for the first week in November.
Along the top of the seawall at the reserve we have just the one large dog-rose bush and yesterday I was surprised to see amongst the hips, this newly-opened flower, quite remarkable. Everytime that I pass the bush I pick off a hand full of hips and scatter them one at a time along the side of the seawall in the hope of getting more bushes established for the wildlife. Despite being such a simple thing, I always feel that the dog-rose flower is one of the most beautiful of all the rose blooms.
And take a look at this rose bush in my garden, photographed just an hour ago, it still has as many flowers on it now as it did in June - quite amazing.
While sitting in the conservatory this afternoon, watching great, dark grey clouds being pushed across the sky in the wind and turning it increasingly gloomier, I watched Bumble bees still actively working the flower heads of that great favourite of theirs - Verbena bonariensis. It seems to flower almost to Christmas and is always there to feed a late bee or butterfly that chances by. Its all so remarkable for the time of year.
With the clouds getting heavier and rain not far away, its starting to get dark already, or so it seems. As I look out of my study window and across the Scrapsgate marshes, the Shingle Bank and the Thames Estuary, a container ship is passing by for Grain and the lights of Southend are beginning to twinkle in the gloom. The daily winter flock of corvids are beginning to rise up off the Scrasgate marshes and circle round before passing overhead to their evening roost. By mid-winter, this flock wiil build up to around 400-500 birds strong and consist of mostly Jackdaws and a few crows.
Just as the first chinks of light start to appear in the sky in the morning this great flock pass over my house and go out on to the Scrapsgate marshes across the road. Here they seem to stay the whole day, feeding on the grazing meadows. Then as the light starts to fade in the late afternoon, up they all rise and for a few moments, spread across a large tract of sky and cawing madly, they make their back east over Minster. I haven't a clue where they all roost but its a great joy to see so many Jackdaws still on Sheppey and this daily event is repeated well into the Spring.
And lastly, the Sloe Gin that I started up in September, has now turned a lovely rich beetroot colour, the hardest part now will be to avoid sampling it until at least the New Year - gawd!