Dawn was just brightening the sky this morning as I turned on to the Harty Road and as I arrived at the top of Capel Hill a mist was rising along the length of Capel Fleet down below me.
Arriving at the reserve barn shortly after, the dawn sky was beginning to change colour but the most noticeable thing was the temperature, it was only 3 degrees, heralding the first wearing of gloves this autumn.
As I began to walk across the marsh towards the sea wall a very heavy dew had not only made everything soaking wet but it was clear from the silvery nature of it that we must of only been a degree or so away from our first autumn frost as well. I then heard the distant clamouring of Greylag Geese ahead of me over the sea wall and quickly the first skein of them came came towards me across the marsh, disappearing out towards central Harty.
The photo below shows the Delph Fleet alongside the sea wall, with its typical early morning and Dickensian look, all mist and eeriness, don't you just love it.
And so to the top of the sea wall and my first glimpse of the sun as it began to rise in the eastern sky between Shellness and Reculver, something that always makes an early morning walk so worthwhile. To my surprise, because I'd heard no shots as the geese first flew inwards earlier, three wildfowlers were just packing up for the morning and so I stopped to chat to them as they came in. It seems that the geese have begun to realise now where they will be in danger and have started to cross the saltings at each end, rather than where the wildfowlers tend to wait, its amazing how quickly they learn these things.
After chatting with the wildfowlers, I then followed my usual trail across and through the middle of the reserve, hoping to record a bird or two, which turned out to be pretty much the count. 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Tufted Duck, 6 Snipe and a Peregrine were the best of some very low numbers. The Peregrine was quite amazing because as I wondered along a flock of Starlings crossed within 20 yds of me and all of a sudden the Peregrine swooped through them from nowhere and could of only cleared my head by a couple of yds, easily the closest I've been to a Peregrine!
As I continued around the reserve the sun had begun to pick up strength and with no wind at all, was quite warm on my back and it wasn't just birds in the air. Behind Oare, one of the regular hot air balloon trips was taking place and the balloon seemed to hang in the air for ages without really going anywhere.
And so, back to the barn, where the sun was now lighting up the tops of the willows that we have planted all round it. At this time of the year, the combination of reeds and bushes become quite attractive to migrant warblers as they pass through, and even a Cettis was singing a few times this week.
One last thing, the fox hunt were out again on Harty this week, doing what fox hunts normally do, despite the alleged ban on hunting with dogs. I watched them briefly as they encouraged the pack of hounds through the reed beds of Capel Fleet in the hope of finding a fox, I presume they were "cubbing", looking for young foxes that the junior hounds can be trained on.