Friday, 4 March 2016

Yo Yo Weather

Gawd, the weather is certainly in a yo-yo mood at the moment, take yesterday. At 8.00 on the sea wall of the reserve, under heavy grey skies and facing into an icy and bone chilling N. wind, I was as cold as I've been all winter. By 1.00 that afternoon, under blue skies and sunshine it was almost Springlike. Today, heavy overnight rain had cleared before dawn and the whole day, whilst still a tad chilly, has seen unbroken blue skies and sunshine and in the conservatory this afternoon it was positively hot.
Below is The Flood Field earlier this morning from the Sea Wall Hide, looking still nicely wet and although you can't see them, still holding good numbers of wildfowl and waders. Over the next month or so, it will gradually dry out and provide nesting opportunities to several species of birds.

The view along the sea wall towards Shellness. About half a mile further along this wall is where the Richards Pipit has been observed on an almost daily basis since December.

Coots having an argument.

One of the reserve's larger ditches, looking quite splendid and soon to be noisy as nesting Coots and the loud croaking of Marsh Frogs take over.

We've had some spectacular numbers of geese this week, especially the Brent Geese, seen below as they flight into the grazing marsh of the reserve. One sunny afternoon this week I had the beautiful sight of over 1400 mixed Brent, White-fronted and Greylag geese spread out across one field.

Once settled, the Brent Geese start to spread out, squabble, preen and feed on the grass.

I was lucky in this photo to get all three species together. Brent at the top, Whitefronts in the middle and two Greylags below.

I've featured these old salt workings mounds before and there are several dotted about across the grazing marsh of the reserve. Little is written about them but they are several hundred years old and from a time before the sea wall existed and very high tides could still flood flood onto the marsh. We believe that the mounds are the spoil thrown up from the digging of large salt pans in which sea water was trapped and allowed to evaporate, leaving the salt behind. In more recent times they have served as refuges for livestock on the few occasions that the reserve has been severely flooded.

Nowadays this particular couple of mounds are home to around 30-40 rabbits and apart from one or two else elsewhere on the reserve, that is the sum of the reserve's rabbit population now. Quite amazing when you consider that around twenty years ago it was possible on a summer's evening, to walk round the reserve and count 800-1000 rabbits!
But they contacted some disease that caused them to haemorrhage and that coupled with the annual summer myxy. outbreak and ferreting, caused a rapid decline in the rabbit numbers. Unfortunately, even when numbers had dropped to just a couple hundred, management who panicked on seeing just a dozen or so rabbits and considered it a plague, still allowed over-zealous culling to take place.


  1. Interestingly Derek, the geese which frequent fields in the Dales during the Winter are gradually disappearing - presumably flying South to your neck of the woods.

  2. It's possible Pat, you have had wetter and snowier weather than us this winter.

  3. Reminds me of the huge flocks of Canada geese that would come through Minnesota every year. We also had a large population that were permanent residents and congregated on a lake which never totally froze over because it was the cooling water for a power plant.

  4. We also have some largish flocks of Canada Geese in this country Wilma, although here on the reserve we only have 2-3 pairs.

  5. Glorious photos Derek - next best thing to going round the reserve myself.
    Re tartar - Tess has had four teeth out as well. As for food she has been having half and half wet and dry food, but I am changing to all dry from today as that is what the vet recommended.
    While I am here, I wanted to ask you - someone told me that it is legal to shoot hares durig February - is this right and if so do the wildfowlers or others shoot the around your way? (I am horrified) - we have seen more this year on the farm than we have ever seen before and it is wonderful.