Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Buds are Bursting
For the first hour that I was on and around the reserve this morning, it was sunny and warm with just a light breeze. After that the wind picked up a bit and it came in overcast and murky and a tad chilly. The first hour though made it seem very Spring-like and driving through the small thicket that gives entry on to the reserve (see above), it was evident that things are changing.
The Alder below was in full male bloom with its catkins looking very showy.
Alongside it this willow had all its buds bursting as the silvery catkins were desperate to get out into the warm Spring air and provide nectar for the early bumblebees.
In the same willow tree, just a month or so ago, I put this new nest box and going by the attention the nest hole has had it looks hopeful that a pair of Great or Blue Tits have already adopted it.
Walking across the reserve under a shower of Skylark notes falling from the sky, and the feeling of warm sun on the face, it really did feel as though we were leaving winter behind. The Greylag Geese have definitely decided that because more and more are flying around in pairs now and along the tops of the reed beds the male Reed Buntings now sing their wistful songs. The danger is getting ahead of yourself, there are certainly bad weather days still to come, but it won't be long before that lone Starling rushing across the sky makes you gasp as you think its that first Swallow and fence posts and ant hills are scanned for the bobbing action of the first Wheatear.
But since my last posting we have seen the arrival of some birds that I never thought I would ever find myself getting excited about - ten Coots have returned! The Delph Fleet, much deserted this winter, now looks proper again, and not only the Coots but Pochard, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall are being seen in small numbers. I love Gadwall, get a close up of the drake and you will see that its feather patterning and colours are as good as any of its more colourful cousins.
And as I walked, soaking up these Spring-time dreams, from high overhead I became aware of the continual and plaintive call of a male Marsh Harrier. It took some finding but eventually through the binoculars I found the bird, almost lost in the clouds, as it turned and wheeled high in the sky in a form of courtship display to some hopeful female far below somewhere.
I turned then and accessed the two RSPG Harty fields alongside the reserve - you can see them below, either side of the old counter wall that runs between them. This counter wall was originally the seawall that bordered Capel Fleet when it still ran across the marshes there, to join up with The tidal Swale. Now it provides an ideal vantage point onto the two rough, grassy fields either side which have consistently this winter given food and shelter to a flock of over 40 Lapland Buntings. They can be amazingly invisible though and this morning I saw none, just two singing male Corn Buntings which are a hopeful sign for a second breeding season there.
Oh, and one last fall back to my last posting, re. the two dead Mute Swans under the power lines along the Harty Road. After receiving my photos, the Kent RSPB contacted the power companies responsible and it appears that their budgets won't run to providing an extension to the warning balls that are currently there on a length of the lines. We are now hoping that Natural England will be able to exert a bit more pressure on the power company.