Those of you who know the Harty Road will recognise the next photo, it's Capel Fleet at "Capel Corner". This normally wide and fairly deep body of water has been reduced to a very shallow and smelly stretch, choked with large areas of green blanket weed.
So shallow in fact that this Heron is now able to wade well out into it in search of food.
Likewise, here is the reserve's Flood Field from the seawall with it's once flooded rills just visible as dry earth amid the blanket covering of club rush and docks. Hard to believe that as recent as the late Spring/early summer that this was still 70% wet or waterlogged and full of waders and wildfowl. At some stage in the next month or so it will get it's annual mow but is unlikely to wetten up much before the New Year.
At one gateway as I wandered round, the reserve's herd of cattle and their calves stood defiant on the track as if challenging the dogs and I to try and pass through the gate. We did of course, they simply moved aside as we walked through them, a couple of belches and the odd stream of liquid poo being their bored retorts.
Over the next few weeks we will probably enter one of the less savoury annual events on the reserve, the rabbit Myxomatosis season. Normally during every July and August this painful disease will strike the rabbits and decimate the small colonies that we have left of them on the reserve. I haven't seen any sign of it so far but it's pretty much guaranteed to happen and then, as well as looking awful with swollen eyes and rear ends, the poor blinded creatures become prey to everything that passes. This not only means that we struggle to retain any rabbits on the reserve until the survivors replace their numbers but it becomes a problem with my terriers. I have to try and keep the dogs away from the warrens because instead of the usual high speed chases that amount to few kills, the dogs can simply walk up to the rabbits, pick them up and kill them. It puts the rabbits out of their misery but given that they are normally heaving with fleas which transfer to the dogs, it means that I then have to de-flea the dogs by picking them off, before taking the dogs home. One of the less savoury joys of having working dogs!
Finally, getting back to the Kestrel's nest site on the reserve, I could hear the noisy screeches of a chick calling for food, one of them had left the nest box and was sitting on an some railway sleepers nearby. Why it had chosen to leave the comfort of the box while still barely feathered I don't know, but it seemed strong and healthy and so I decided to leave it where it was rather than try and put it back and risk disturbing the other two chicks who were watching what was going on.