Well, with no visit to the reserve yesterday thanks to it being a miserable cold and rainy day, the plan today was to get out early and do one of my regular dawn patrols. I even put my telescope and tripod out ready, something I hate lugging round the marsh over my shoulder, determined to get a more accurate count of what was about bird-wise. Looking out of the window at 6.00, that plan was clearly not going to happen, we had thick fog outside and the foghorns out to sea were sounding like mad. So it was an early breakfast and read of the paper first, which in some ways only added to my depression. The front page of the Sunday Telegraph announced that over the last twelve months green energy companies were paid a combined total of £53 million to switch off their wind turbines when the electricity they produced couldn't be stored. On average wind farms paid to switch off their turbines earn about one third more than if they produced electricity and sold it to the National Grid. The companies get subsidies to erect the turbines and subsidies to turn them off, all paid for by extra costs tacked on to consumers bills - what a huge win-win, money making con this green energy lark is. Clearly if you want to get rich quick get into green energy, pull the wool over consumers eyes and keep pocketing the subsidies.
Anyway, after choking on my toast and marmite while reading that, another glance out of the window showed that the fog wasn't lifting at all and so I set off anyway, arriving at the reserve in thick fog and general dampness at 8.20. I say thick fog but it could of been thick mist - what exactly is the bloody difference.
As soon as I got out of the car, a few shots from the general direction of the distant and invisible sea wall, indicated that a few wildfowlers were about and so I made my way across the marsh to have a chat with them. At first, as I walked along the top of the sea wall, I couldn't see anybody on the saltings, although a few more shots were fairly close, the fog was that thick. However, by the time I'd walked a fair way along the wall and then returned, the wildfowlers were packing up and making their way towards me out of the fog. Five wildfowlers in total eventually appeared and we had a chat about how the shooting in general had been over the Christmas period - quiet mainly apparently, although they had managed a combined total of three Wigeon and a Gadwall this morning despite the fog. I left them to wander back along the wall to their cars and spent another hour myself out there in the damp and the cold, using my ears rather than my eyes to record any birds.
These winter months are a real challenge for me each year and suffering as I do from both SAD and increasingly, the aches and pains of arthritis, the feeling of imprisonment that the months of November to March bring is quite depressing. There are of course the briefly uplifting days of clear blue skies, sunshine and frost, but far too many like today and I've never been one who could dig out any kind of solace within them. The photo below is not of any significance other than it shows my garden in summer, taken at 9.15 in the evening, how wonderful such long and warm summer days are, the Spring can't come quick enough!
Oh, and by the way, last Friday huntsman were out following their beagle pack as they pursued hares across Harty marshes, so that's the fox hunts and now beaglers openly hunting on Harty, despite a supposed Hunting Bill. What is hypocritical about that is the fact that one of the farming families that allow this hunting to take place on their land will take very aggressive actions against anybody found with a lurcher doing the same.