Friday, 1 January 2016

A Frosty First Day

After being kept awake after midnight by mass fireworks going off all round (some people seem to have an awful lot of money to burn), I had a couple of hours sleep and then got to the reserve just as a spectacular dawn was appearing in the eastern sky. We also had the first hard frost of this winter.
Below is the view from Capel Hill across Harty marshes as a spectacular dawn began to come to life.

After stopping at the Raptor Viewing Mound to speak to three birdwatchers who were peering into the gloom through their telescopes, trying to add as many birds to their New Year lists as possible, I arrived at the reserve barn as the sky was beginning to brighten and change colour.

This one, taken from alongside the barn and looking across the grazing marsh, shows a light mist that quickly formed and hung around for about an hour, making bird counts difficult.

And yet, by the time that I had walked across the marsh to the top of the seawall, where this photo was taken, the sky had changed colour again, you can just make out the silver strip of The Swale between Sheppey and the mainland.

I could see another birdwatcher further along the sea wall in the mist and the poor light and so walked along to him for a chat. There were three wildfowlers out on the saltings and so I didn't want to go out into the reserve and disturb the geese and risk them getting shot, much as I get on with the wildfowlers, I'd much rather the White-fronted Geese remain unscathed. Gavin, a local birdwatcher, was searching for the pair of Hen Harriers that have been roosting on the saltings near Shellness for around a week and I was anxious to see them for myself.  Did we see them, did we heck, unlike most other people that have been out there lately.

The mist had more or less cleared and the frost was thawing, all in all, it was a really nice morning to be out so early, although I needed to be elsewhere quite early and so had to head back across the marsh. A flock of c.130 White-fronted Geese were ahead of me, grazing the marsh grass, and so I circled round them at around 150yds distance and they totally ignored me and as I did that, the Hooded Crow flew past. It had been a brief visit but made spectacular by the sunrise and the geese, that'll do until a longer walk there tomorrow.


  1. A dynamic dawn sky to start the year, Derek! Just beautiful. The last shot is especially lovely.

  2. after a pleasant new year's eve party of five here, we were late to bed. I stayed in this morning and didn't wake until 11.15!! Unheard of for me, and now your early morning walk has contrived to pile on the guilt!! Happy new year.

  3. Lovely photographic report Derek, thank you. I was over at Shellness from rather early today, and as that sky developed I was hoping for a Short-eared Owl to perch itself in front of it. Did one heck! Gavin is going to post this evenings details on the KOS website, but both of us, from very different locations saw two male Hen Harriers briefly together over the saltings. And later the ringtail too. I am sure you will see them soon.

  4. Thanks for those comments Wilma.

    Pat, I think you work much harder at Christmas and New Year than I do and therefore you deserve your lie in.
    Me, I went to bed at 11.00, didn't get to sleep until 02.00 and got up at 05.15 and was on the marsh at 07.15, it's been a great day.