At last, after a pretty awful Spring and early Summer, we finally have some hot and sunny weather. It's fantastic, 30+ degrees and I'm loving it but I wonder how quickly the first moans about it being too hot will start.
Breasting the top of Capel Hill at 7.00 this morning and looking down across the flat lands of the Harty marshes, the predominant colour was yellow. The dry weather of the last few months has seen the grass struggle to grow at any acceptable rate and now, with a few scorching days, wherever livestock have been for some time the fields are looking dust dry and almost billiard table flat. The rape is also well forward and yellowing off and it can only be a few weeks before that is harvested. The only really green areas are the fields of winter corn but unless we get some appreciable rain over the next few weeks I imagine that there will be few plump grains in the ears as they ripen.
Here you can see the kind of dry and yellow pasture that the sheep are struggling with.
And the view down across Capel Fleet as it snakes it's way across the marshes towards The Swale in the distance.
Once on the reserve this view eastwards down The Swale towards distant Reculver shows the strong sun reflecting back off of the sea and making the blue sky look dark. You can also sea the light grey of a distant fog bank well out to sea.
It was low tide in The Swale this morning and so Horse Sands were high and dry but there was very little on them, not even the regular seals.
Just the other side of one of the boundary fences separating the reserve from the neighbouring farmland, the farmer has sown a ten metre wide cover strip consisting of many wild flowers, this Chicory is one of them. It has currently grown to around six foot tall and is in full flower and attracting countless bees.
I know that he, like many farmers, gets a subsidy for sowing such strips but who cares when we get such valuable habitat for wildlife - well done that farmer!
As for the reserve in general, well butterflies are becoming the main attraction as we now go into mid-summer heat and dryness and it looks like it could be a good one. Meadow Browns, Small Heaths, Small Skippers and some Small Tortoiseshells are all beginning to show in increasing numbers now. The 700-800 Peacock caterpillars that I counted a couple of weeks ago have now all disappeared, leaving large clumps of bare nettle stems behind, they will now be pupating close by, ready to emerge as beautiful new butterflies over the coming weeks.
Water levels have now dropped dramatically and the Flood is now struggling to be even a Splash but it does mean that for a brief period we have some shallow water with muddy fringes and as a result the first few returning waders have begun to drop by. Yesterday there were two Little Ringed Plovers and today, two Green Sandpipers.
Working my way back round the reserve I spotted these bulrushes now coming into flower, the male part is at the top and dark brown and the female part, which later becomes the brown part that we all know, is below.