Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mumbles from the Marsh

The breeding season on the reserve is coming to a close now and it's been a pretty poor one over-all.  The Greylag Geese (above) reared a few goslings but nothing like in previous seasons and the resident flock of white domestic geese (below with Greylags), bred none, perhaps a good thing. Skylarks still heartily above the grazing fields and Sedge and Reed Warblers are still very active in the reed beds but birds such as the Lapwings are pretty much finished now and have already started forming post-breeding season flocks out on the saltings. The Lapwings in particular have suffered a very poor breeding season as a result of the cold and the wet and we're also leaning towards believing that the Marsh Harriers on Harty have suffered a similar fate, although I did see a juvenile bird yesterday for the first time this year.

 It was nice to enjoy some blue skies and warm sunshine though on the reserve this morning and with the Longest Day being celebrated this week a prolonged spell of warm, dry and sunny weather is much needed if we're to have any kind of summer in what time is left. The common theme on many of the blogs at the moment is anguish over the continually bad weather and while suffering an enforced wet day indoors this week I trawled through some of last year's postings by those that moan the most about this current weather. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, I found that they also complained last year when suffering a prolonged warm and sunny spell, perhaps some bird bloggers are like British Rail managers - it's always the wrong type of weather that's to blame!
Me, I'd be more than happy if the next couple of months were hot, dry and sunny, it would make views such as the one below at Harty Ferry in The Swale this morning, more regular and enjoyable.

 Recently, the track that runs down from Harty Church to the sea wall and the reserve has had these sculptured pieces of wood put in place alongside the gate at the end. There are another two at the Raptor Viewing Mound as well, put in at some expense, but not by the RSPB or Natural England I might add, in fact I haven't a clue who actually was responsible.
This one makes reference to the time in 1909 when Lord Brabazon tied a wicker basket to his very flimsy aircraft, put a piglet in it and took it up into the sky. Given that the event took place at Muswell Manor, some three miles across the marsh, I would of thought that putting them closer to there would of been more appropriate and less confusing.

In case I get lost any time, this signpost is also alongside the same gate as the above, pointing the way along the sea wall to Shellness, or back up the track to the church. Its been there a long time and certainly didn't cost what the others did and it could be argued, is more informative.

One final aspect of the topsy-turvy weather so far this year is the growth rate of the grazing marsh. After it had been grazed back to just a few centimetres high by sheep this winter we went through a dry March with it looking pretty grim and useless for wildlife. Just look at it now, it should look reasonably well grazed but the cattle this year are fighting a losing battle, despite chomping away as fast as they can. Unfortunately extra livestock cannot be found at the drop of a hat, in March the grazier was panicking about having too many cattle for how little grass was about, now he hasn't enough - which brings me back to blaming it on the wrong kind of weather!

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