Sunday, 2 November 2014

Indian Summer

The last two days of October on the reserve were exceptional for the weather that we experienced, weather that would not be amiss in mid-summer, it was sunny, still and very warm with a record temp. of 24 degrees reached in Kent. The early morning of Friday the 31st, was particularly exceptional in being able to walk around at 8.00 in just a jumper and trousers and be almost sweating as the sun began to climb above the distant hills. Below you can see the mainland hills beyond Seasalter as the sun first began to appear.


As the sun began to strengthen you can see it shining down one side of this Kestrel on a seawall bush. A little later, whilst standing by the reserve's boundary hedge line, my delight at the beauty of the weather was compounded when I had the amazing sight of a newly hatched male Orange Tip butterfly fluttering towards me, that has to be a record sighting for the time of the year!


This morning at dawn, the weather was a whole different proposition, as you can see below looking across the reserve from the sea wall. A strong SW wind was blowing and increasingly darkening skies threatened imminent rain, which shortly after duly arrived.


But it's been nice this autumn to have the "S Bend Ditch" retaining some water and this reserve-bred brood of swans have been enjoying it with their parents. Snipe too have been fairly regular along there in good numbers.


Bird numbers still remain fairly low, apart from a flock of 600+ Brent Geese that are daily stripping large quantities of the young rape leaves from fields alongside the Shellness track, despite having shots fired over their heads to scare them off. That could become a problem for both the farmer and the geese if they continue to ravage the crop in such a way.
The flock of Pink-footed Geese are still seen on the reserve most days, with the latest count being 48 birds and yesterday I had the first of this autumn's Hen Harriers there, a nice adult female.
Lastly, just recently we have had a profusion of delicious field mushrooms spring up all over the reserve, great to eat and my girlfriend made a soup out of one lot, which went down very well.

5 comments:

  1. Well done on that Orange Tip record, what a sighting. I hope you have passed it on?

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  2. Hi Derek,

    Interesting post - as usual. Good to hear a female Hen Harrier is around. Have you had time to reflect upon our discussion a couple of weeks ago?

    Best wishes,
    Arnie

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  3. Marc - yes, I advised the Kent branch of Butterfly Conservation.

    Arnie, I read the link that you posted and Mr. Avery does offer valid reasons why licensing will not work and in particular the case of who would police such a scheme. We have too many of these schemes where after coming up with some daft idea, those who make it law then wash their hands of it, walk away and leave it to be flouted by all and sundry. Licenses for shooting Brent Geese that are damaging crops are a typical case. Having been given a license to shoot say 10 birds, the farmer could in reality shoot 10 repeatedly, who will be monitoring him?
    Bans on the use of lead shot and even hunting with dogs are other examples - who monitors what goes on, apart from in the case of the latter, a few anti. hunt sabs.
    I don't have the depth of knowledge to debate this much further and this comment box is not the best place anyway, but what I would say, is that I don't think simply banning driven grouse shooting on the moors is the answer unless those who want such a thing can guarantee to me that after such a ban, that the moors would be rigoursly policed in order to prevent increased retalitory actions by those who would feel aggrieved at having their livelyhoods and leisure interests taken away from them.

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  4. Thank you Derek; you're completely entitled to your view. I wish you all the best and truly hope you're able to watch and monitor Hen Harriers on Sheppey for many years to come. I look forward to hearing about them and other wildlife news from Sheppey on your blog.

    Best wishes,
    Arnie

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    ReplyDelete