Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Moving On

Double click on the photos and they come up better.

Well that's enough of fish 'n chips and scoops of crackling, and given that it's clouded up, no sun bed and glasses of Pinot Grigio either, today it's back to the serious stuff and cups of tea.
Saying that, the walk on the reserve this morning was once again carried out in warm sunshine and under blue skies, despite it's daily contribution to the current drought, this recent weather has been really nice and it'll be a great shame to go back to the cold and possibly, even mud on the tracks. And talking of drought, I took a couple of photos this morning to illustrate once again what it means on the reserve. I took this photo at the end of the "S Bend Ditch" (note the blue skies). After a normal winter this track would remain impassable in walking boots until at least May/June due to it being flooded across.

Likewise, alongside it is another part of the "S Bend Ditch". It never did re-fill this winter and should be wall to wall water at this time of the year, it just looks sad and almost dry now.

Just think, in many years time when people are saying "where was you in the Great Drought of 2012", those photos might illustrate it. I doubt I'll be answering the question, my ashes will probably be blowing in the wind by then.
And continuing the drought theme, just look at how these Water Vole holes have become exposed by the ever dropping ditch levels. These are the voles back doors, holes that should be a foot below the water level as the water mark on the sedge shows. These are their hidden escape route should an enemy enter by the exposed and higher front doors - it doesn't bode well for the rest of the summer.

Here in the South East, our hosepipe ban starts at midnight tomorrow and so, despite the cost that will no doubt show on my new and compulsory water meter, I gave the lawns a good soaking with the sprinklers. It won't last long but if nothing else it was a joy today to watch several Blackbirds triumphantly catching worms in the softened ground. We've barely started the breeding season and already the thrushes must be struggling to prevent their young starving in the nest, it's going to be tough for them, just as it will for hedgehogs. Dust dry ground is hardly going to provide them with the worms, slugs and snails that they need after emerging from hibernation.

Moving on, there seems to have been an explosion of Mediteranean Gulls here on Sheppey in the last few weeks. Hardly a day goes by without them passing over my garden calling in that conspicuous and unforgettable way of theirs. Cycling along Minster seafront yesterday lunch time they were everywhere, battling it out with their Black-headed cousins for bread being thrown by the public.
And lastly, a couple of days ago I was watching two pairs of Marsh Harriers taking nest material into a large field of rape here on Sheppey. Aerial displays, food passes and carrying of nest material all made for exciting stuff to watch but what a shame that they've chosen to nest in the rape, with numerous safer reedbeds to choose from. As the photo below shows, the rape is already beginning to flower which means it will almost certainly be harvested well before any harrier chicks get the chance to fledge and fly out of harms way.

"woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
and the mussel pooled and the heron
priested shore
the morning beckon
with water praying and call of seagull and rook
and the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
myself to set foot
that second
in the still sleeping town and set forth"..........Dylan Thomas

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