As this year's endless winter began to encroach on what should of been early Spring, people in their desperation, often referred to it as the "never ending winter," it now seems that we are experiencing a "never starting summer."
Almost mid-June and the Longest Day and this morning I had to have lights on in the house because it was so dull outside and was almost tempted last night to put the central heating on for half an hour, although perhaps that was just me and old age. In fairness though, walking round the reserve this morning, despite the dullness of the day, it was at least much warmer - the relentlessly cold NE wind has finally swung round and become a warm S one. Such small joys this summer but how I long for a couple of weeks of proper summer - hot and sunny days from dawn to dusk, butterflies constantly on the wing, sitting by cool water watching dragonflies and fish rising to the fly. A real summer, where after just two weeks of it the words drought and "it's too hot" suddenly start appearing - that's what we need, not this warm weather and grey skies or sunny skies and cold winds. Will it happen yet, who knows - will people moan if it does, course they will.
I was disappointed this morning, walking along the reserve seawall, to see three people out on Horse Sands at low tide. Horse Sands is the large and long sandbank in The Swale off Harty, between Sheppey and the mainland. The sands have always been a popular low-tide roost and feeding site for all manner of wading birds and wildfowl and in recent years, a place most days where you can often see 20+ Common Seals resting between tides. At this time of the year as well, there are often pups with the adults.
This morning at low-tide there was an inflatable boat on there and three guys wandering around with fishing rods and obviously, no bird or seal life. More worryingly though was the fact that they appear to have driven in ten, evenly spaced fence stakes along the low-tide water line and I can only assume that they intend to either hang fishing line and hooks, or nets between the posts in order to catch fish between the tides. This whole thing, which is possibly illegal, gives rise to two main concerns, the hazard that these posts will become to small boats and yachts whilst invisible under the water and possible disturbance and harm sustained by the seals.
If fish are being caught on lines and nets then they will become attractive to the seals, which could become injured as they try and take them. In turn, if the fishermen are finding half-eaten fish in their gear when they return, they could take preventative measures against the seals. Perhaps I'm reading too much into what was happening there but it didn't look good and it was at least the second day running that those people have been seen there.
Further to the mention of my very first Adder sighting in Surrey in my last posting, I am also seeing increased numbers of Grass Snakes on the reserve this year. Over the last three weeks I have already seen three, not a lot by some people's standards but more than I would see in any one year most of the time. All a bit strange when you consider how cold it's been most of the time. Perhaps like us on the odd hot day this year, they just throw caution to the wind and throw off their clothes, or skin in their case, and become extra visible taking advantage of it - a bit like the nudists at the Shellness nudist beach!