Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunshine Surprise

It was a pleasant surprise this morning to get up at 5.00 to clear blues skies, no wind and not long after, a fast warming sun. As I write this now in the late morning the normal cloud layer is re-forming and the sun fast disappearing, but earlier it was superb.
Anxious not to miss it I was soon off to The Swale NNR, for a brief walk round and the first birds that I came across were these Shelduck ducklings with their parents anxiously circling overhead. They must surely be the prettiest of the British ducklings, and remarkably almost straight away I also passed the remaining couple of a once large brood of Shoveler ducklings. They're a bit distant but double click on the mouse and they come up a bit better.

Unfortunately we also discovered today that there has been one notable breeding failure, the chicks of our resident breeding pair of Barn Owls were dead in the nest box. One possible reason for this could be the degree of wet weather in recent days which has flattened and soaked the grassy areas where the owls normally hunt, making it difficult to locate and get at the small mammals that they feed on.
Given the cracking weather I decided that I'd visit the reserve's shellspit outpost at Shellness Point and so made my way back to the car and drove round to Shellness Hamlet via Leysdown and the now much deteriorated track alongside the sea wall. Parking the car at the car park, climbing the stile and walking along the "permissive path" out to the start of the beach, the first thing I clapped eyes on were the large clumps of the lovely, white Sea Campion. What a lovely wild flower it is.

The reserve's management have recently made a few improvements out towards the Point and arriving at the old WW2 Observation Post there is a new sign on its wall asking the public not to walk inside the roped-off section of beach there, with the potential for nesting Little Terns being the reason why. Here is a close up of the sign, followed by a more distant shot of the observation post on the beach.

And just past the Observation Post, the old fencing has been replaced by new posts and roping, hopefully leaving that section of the beach undisturbed. Sadly, with only one Little Tern being seen while I was there, it looks like this year will see yet another failed breeding season for those delightful little summer visitors.

Several clumps of Yellow-horned Poppy were in flower.

Standing at the Observation Post, these are two views - west towards the Point

and East towards the Hamlet.

Vipers Bugloss

The Observation Post across the saltings from the "permissive path".
And on returning back home, a juv. Goldfinch on the sunflower hearts, through the conservatory window.


  1. Another great read Derek, accompanied by some interesting photos. Love those little Shellduck.

  2. Thanks Mike, it was nice to be out in some warm sunshine first thing in the morning, Shelduck ducklings really are cute.