I was on the reserve at 6.00 this morning and despite a chilly wind it soon became a beautiful sunny morning. The first sighting was of a yacht making it's way out of The Swale past Shellness Point, you can just make out Reculver Towers in the distance.
This week saw the installation of a fantastic new addition to the reserve - a wind pump. It should enable a particularly dry end of the reserve to be gradually maintained in a wetter condition, making it ideal for the Lapwing and Redshank chicks each Spring and indeed many other birds throughout the dry summer season. It also brings back to the marsh something that was a traditional and familiar sight throughout Sheppey's marshes years ago. There used to be numerous of these wind pumps across the marshes in the 1800 and early 1900's, supplying the various small farm cottages with their only source of drinking water and even when I was young several still survived. Even now the rusty towers of one or two still stand without their wind vanes, one being down at the "Brickfields" at Elmley.
I left the new addition behind and wandered round the reserve in the sunshine and despite the fact that it's difficult to believe that we had the wettest winter on record, most of the ditches are still holding reasonable amounts of water and looking quite picturesque.
As is this Yellow Water Iris along some of them.
One bird that has returned in high numbers this year is the Reed Warbler and it could be a very good breeding season for them, all of the reed beds such as this one alongside the sea wall, are full of their song at the moment. Bearded Tits and Water Rails are also being heard taking advantage of the excellent habitat on offer.
And the reed bed from the opposite side shows the Delph Fleet looking quite splendid in the early morning sunshine.
Apart from the Lapwings, which are not doing too well for no obvious reason, most of the regular breeding species seem to be having a pretty good breeding season so far, as this collection of well grown Greylag Geese and parents show. There have been several broods seen this year but so far, none from the three pairs of Canada Geese on the reserve. Broods of Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard have also been seen and with a Garganey drake seen a few times during the last fortnight in the same place, there is hope that it has a duck sitting on eggs close by.
Avocets also appear to be repeating their successful breeding season of last year and several of the c. 24 nesting pairs now have young chicks running with them. They have been sharing the breeding site with several pairs of nesting Black-headed Gulls and hopefully their eggs and chicks are not providing the gulls with a larder alongside.
This week as well, three bulls were put on the reserve, one to each of the three small herds of cows and their calves. This fine fellow below has 22 cows to share his affections with and has already got his summer of love off to a fine start.