Wednesday, 3 April 2013
I had a dream today.
I walked across the reserve this morning with more winter clothes on than I wore in either December, January or February and yet it was April 3rd. I was bent over into a bitter NE wind, unbroken all the way from Holland, freezing cold, with odd snow flurries and gusting to 40 mph and under heavy grey clouds and I had this dream. I dreamed that one day I would walk round the reserve upright and relaxed and in lightweight clothes and it would be warm and sunny and most of all, that there wouldn't be the arctic E. wind that has blown continuously for a month!
I have been active on the reserve for 27 odd years now and yet I can't recall such a prolonged and continuous spell of constant and bitter cold E winds as this, ever.
The only thing that is favourable that those winds have done, is to greatly dry out the grazing marsh from it's previously well flooded winter state, in fact the top of the seawall is starting to crack up. Walking across some of the grazing fields however and knowing the grazier likes to get his cattle and calves out from the stock pens and onto the marsh during April, it looks quite bleak. They are absolutely billiard table flat and without a single blade of green grass showing, just a thick coating of yellow moss, the grass just hasn't grown at all this winter. In other words, putting stock on those fields will benefit the reserve nil this Spring, it will be interesting to see who has the most influence - the reserve, or the grazier - things don't always happen as they should!
So far, the only evidence of breeding on the reserve this so called Spring, has been a pair of Coots that have the nest portrayed above. It'll be interesting to see if they manage to succeed and rear any chicks, normally those nasty predators of marshes, Carrion Crows, end up eating the eggs, clapped on by those who feel that they have a right to do so!
On Monday 1st, I made a point of counting the reserve's wildfowl population to start off the April records on the reserve and it was a very winter-orientated count, to say the least.
30 Mute Swan - 150 White-fronted Geese - 4 Canada Geese - 5 Barnacle Geese - 20 Greylag Geese - 200 Brent Geese - 50 Shelduck - 150 Mallard - 60 Gadwall - 110 Pintail - 600 Teal - 500 Wigeon - 80 Shoveler - 26 Tufted Duck - 20 Pochard - 120 Coot.
Not a single summer visitor among them and to be honest, today 3rd April, is the latest I've gone without seeing even a Wheatear for many a long year.
Marsh Harriers seem to be increasing again after their winter drop in numbers and are re-appearing in many pairs around the reserve. The female above was captured quite well I thought, by my girlfriend with her small pocket camera through the glass window of the Seawall Hide.