Sunday, 31 May 2015

Is this really Summer?

When I got up this morning at 05.30 it seemed pretty clear to me that a reserve visit wasn't going to be on the cards any time soon - it was raining steadily and very windy. So I settled for having some breakfast and reading the Sunday papers and during that time the rain eased to next to nothing. At the same time, every time that I got up, both the dogs would rush to the front door to remind me that surely it was going out time. That's one of the many beauties of having dogs, they never allow you to go a whole day doing nothing, they force you to be active, weather conditions have no effect on their lives.
So, around 08.00, with the rain pretty much stopped, we set off and arrived at the reserve, as it promptly started raining hard again! Not only that, it was very gloomy and there was a strong SW wind blowing, is it really summer? And so we set off, the dogs rushing ahead to get to the old salt-working hillock where rabbits abound and me with my coat zipped up to under the chin and hands in pockets to keep warm. By the time that I was making my way across the marsh to the rabbit hillock the rain had stopped and I was just left in a blustery wind and like a tortoise, my neck gradually began to extend from where it had sunk into the depths of my coat. Ellie, the youngest of the two terriers, was meanwhile chasing rabbits at full speed. The hillock is covered in both stinging nettles and rabbit holes and she works on the principle that if she runs round the site at full speed she will ultimately come upon a rabbit that wasn't expecting to see her wizz by and occasionally it works.
Today I was in no mood for hanging around though and so called both the dogs to me and we carried on across the marsh, following the line of the Delph fleet as I did so. I stopped at one stage and listened to the non-stop and monotonous singing of the Reed Warblers in the tall phragmites reed beds and pondered the fact that the reeds were being severely buffeted by the winds. The warblers build a nest by placing it between 3-4 reed stems and inter-twining some of the material around the stems to hold the nest in place. However when the stems are being pulled in all directions by the strength of the wind it hard not to imagine the nests being pulled apart and the contents spilled into the water below.
Tomorrow night and into Tuesday morning gale force winds and heavy rain showers are forecast and so any relief from the weather will only be short-lived for these birds and their nests. We still seem some way short of getting any settled spell of proper summer weather and it's getting quite depressing.

For a while, more raindrops briefly flew in on the wind and so I made my way to the seawall hide and sat in there for a while, looking at wavelets being pushed along the surface of the Delph, the non-summery view and pondered where I'm at in life. The answer was pretty much as I commented to another blogger earlier today, it's basically about enjoying still being able to get out and about as a 68 year old with arthritic feet and other minor problems. I don't obsess these days about being able to ID everything that I see, or to keep tick lists and stats sheets about every year that now goes by. There's a whole new generation out there now, Twittering and Face-booking their natural history achievements to everybody, and ever challenging each other to better a macro'd to death photograph.  
No, these days I'm happy to just wander round the reserve with the dogs, see what I see, muse on my fifty-odd years of experience being involved in the countryside and basically leave it at that.

And now, dragging myself out of the stupor of a bad day's weather, how's the reserve doing at the moment. Well for a lot of the birds, such as the waders and plovers, the breeding season is beginning to come to an end and as the youngsters start to fledge, it won't be long before some post-breeding flocks of Lapwings begin to form. A lot of the continuing breeding will be with species such as the summer visitors - Reed and Sedge Warblers for example. I had a wander round 50% of the reserve's reed beds yesterday in an attempt to gauge how many pairs of both species were nesting and the Reed Warblers appear to be looking quite good. The only problem is that because of the width and breadth of the reed beds you cannot get in and actually find nest, you can only count singing male birds and use that as an estimate on pairs.

But as the breeding season gradually draws to a close, dryness begins to take over and wildfowl and waders drift away, wild flowers and butterflies become the main interest for me at least. Two types of wild flower currently in full flower on the reserve are the staple of any grazing meadow, the Buttercup and a flower of roadside verges and waste land, the purple-flowered Salsify.


  1. Derek - I could have written that. Gives me a good idea for a post...thanks!

  2. Glad to be of help Steve - go for it.

  3. Derek - bang on the money! It's been toilet here on Thanet also. I've just seen Steve's blog post - it seems like we're all in agreeance? Spring 2015 has been well below par! - Dyl

  4. Seems like some better news from Wednesday onwards. Maybe it will all kick off then ? Another good read Derek.

  5. Indeedy Mike, things do look better from Wednesday, just got to get through today, Tuesday, with these awful autumnal gales.