As many people will know who wander about in the countryside on a regular basis, many days are the same as each other, can be bloody boring in fact, but now and again along comes one that stands out, that strikes a chord somewhere within. It could be the first swallow in Spring, or the dawn sun sparkling on overnight snow, but for me this morning, it was a sailing barge making it's way out of The Swale as dawn broke across the estuary.
At first there was not a sound as ghost-like, the barge made it's silent way towards the open sea round Shellness Point but as the first tip of the sun rose from behind Reculver, so the birds woke up. A curlew called, followed by another and another, a curlew chorus orchestrated the stillness of the dawn, playing farewell to the barge and it's crew.
And as the sun rose quickly into the dawn sky, a breath of easterly breeze stirred my face and Skylarks began to sing, dawn became morning and the moment was lost, but what a moment it had been.
Unfortunately, the rest of the walk around the reserve was just as it has been now for some weeks, pretty boring. Recent rains and heavy dews have certainly got the grass growing again and it's all looking much greener but water levels remain low or non-existent and hence bird numbers can be pretty much recorded on one hand at times. The other morning along the "S Bend Ditch", normally the best spot on the reserve, I counted 9 Teal, 2 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper and 12 Mallard, from experience it'll be after New Year before things pick up again.
Mind you, the weather has got the arable crops across Harty off to a much better start this year. Last autumn it went very wet almost overnight and many fields couldn't be sown with corn and young rape rotted soon after germinating. This year, as the photo below shows, the winter wheat is already off to a flying start, farmers might even be happy.
Over the last couple of weeks my garden pond has had regular daily visits from this Heron, fishing for the goldfish therein. The pond is quite large and is home to a good number of both newts and frogs, which was it's original reason for being put there, but many years ago four goldfish were put in there, a huge mistake! They have since multiplied to many, many dozens of all sizes and act like piranhas when it comes to snapping up newly hatched tadpoles each Spring. I now have to rear the tadpoles in a different place in the garden each year - the Heron is a welcome visitor, it's welcome to every goldfish that it snaps up.
Lastly, while sitting at the computer in my study the other morning, this snail began to make it's way up the outside of the window in front of me. It was quite fascinating to watch it's slow progress to the top and I then wondered, do they have the ability to turn off their suction powers and so simply drop back to the earth below, or do they have to make a slow return journey the same way that they came.