In my last posting I was suggesting that we wouldn't be likely to see the flooding of previous winters. We then had the rain of yesterday morning which culminated in a lunch time cloudburst of rain and hailstones of an intensity that reduced visibility to just a few yards and I can't recall ever seeing before in my lifetime. Afterwards I had an E-Mail from a blog follower who suggested I might want to limit what I wish for.
In early morning sun then, which lasted less than an hour, I arrived at the reserve this morning hoping to see much improvement in the water levels for a change, but can't say that any was over obvious. Certainly the grazing marsh itself was much softer to walk and the various tracks have muddy puddles along their length but the only really glaring difference was the amount of mud churned up in the gateways by the cattle. It makes for difficult and smelly progress at times (its not all mud) and when your legs are only three inches long like Ellie's, it's definitely not appreciated, it brings the nose into to close a contact.
But getting back to water levels, the photo below shows how far we still have to go. This ditch is the point where after the reserve has flooded to an optimum depth all over, the excess water then flows over the top of the pipe in the photo and into a drainage ditch on the neighbouring farmland. January for the last three winters has seen this pipe over-topped by floodwaters.
Likewise, this was one of last summers newly dug rills on the grazing marsh this morning. The intention is that this and all the others will be full of water this Spring in order to gradually dry back and provide insect life round the margins for the wader chicks - obviously still some way to go.
But its not all doom and gloom and praying for rain of biblical proportions, this is how the new scrape in the field that we know as The Flood looked this morning. Over the last three weeks, when the ditches alongside have allowed it, I have been gradually pumping their water onto the scrape to arrive at how it now looks. Its still not as wide as will eventually be and will need a season to develop some insect life and vegetation but it is already rewarding me. This morning in there, were 48 White-fronted Geese and 18 Greylag Geese and a spattering of Lapwings - great stuff, and the largest flock of Whitefronts that we've had this winter so far.
Finally, for those who always ask about her, Ellie continues to progress how I would wish. Here from this morning are two photos of her and Midge inspecting a rabbit warren that is sadly vacant.