Sheppey finally had several hours of prolonged and fairly heavy rain last night, easily the most noticeable rain for several months - no longer can we say it never rains on Sheppey!
And after the rain came the sun, under clear blue skies and steady sunshine this morning, the reserve looked quite beautiful and green, and had the feel of March or April about it.
Arriving at the reserve I briefly watched the constant small flocks of Brent Geese that were leaving The Swale and flying across the reserve to alight and feed on the neighbouring farmer's fields of winter corn and silage grass. By the time that I moved on the flock was reaching +700 birds and I fear that prevention measures will have to be taken by the farmer before very long. The photo below shows part of the flock, which despite being several hundred strong, had very few juvenile birds amongst it.
Buoyed by the overnight rain and the fact that a couple of the smaller, dry ditches now had a film of water in them, I carried on to have a look at the "S Bend Ditch" - surely it must have a covering of water in it, the rain last night was really heavy at times - the photo below shows the result, not even a dribble's worth. Obviously the bed of the ditch was so dry after the prolonged drought that all the rain had simply soaked into the ditch bed, we are going to need almost monsoon proportions to re-fill it!
Oh well, Midge and I carried on, we moved through the herd of cattle, with Midge walking between their legs, we left the marsh and walked up on to the reserve and looked out in to The Swale. It was low tide, most of the birds out there on the mudbanks were invisible from the wall but a birdwatcher could be seen making his way out on to Shellness Point - Snow Buntings, that's a thought, I must go out to The Point this weekend and have a look for them.
We wandered about for a while longer but I was thinking of the puppy back home on her own and so we didn't spend as long out there as we would normally and eventually we regretfully left the blue skies and the sunshine behind.
Some of the birds that we saw were:-
700+ Brent Geese - 200 Mallard - 2 ring-tailed Hen Harriers - 5 Marsh Harriers - 1 Peregrine - 1 Kestrel - 2 S.E. Owl - 3 Green Sandpiper - 2 Snipe - 1 Green Woodpecker - 6 Bearded Tit - 3 Wren.