Last week's awfully cold, windy, wet and gloomy wet (almost wintry), was particularly hard on the wader and plover chicks on the reserve. Chicks that are still at the downy stage soon get soaking wet in the long, wet grass and then stay wet and cold until eventually dying. A mid-week review of their numbers found many missing. Surprisingly, something also occurred to this Mute Swan brood. Somehow the cygnets became separated from the parents and I eventually found one dead and the others missing completely, perhaps fox food. Unusual for adult swans to allow that to happen.
More cattle and their calves have been put on the reserve but they are making little progress against the relentlessly growing grass. For ground nesting birds it's not turning out to be a very good spring at all but livestock must be doing very well, lambs on nearby farmland look very fat and healthy. This week, with the weather turning very warm, sunny and dry, two bulls have been put out on the reserve with the cows - a summer holiday enjoying the fruits of labour! They're quite placid, I was only a few yards away from this one as I took the photo but then I've had 30 odd years of walking among them to know the risks. Had it been a horse, I wouldn't of been in the same field, they scare me witless!
Other than that, the reserve is now settling down into an approaching summer lull. The Greylag Geese goslings are almost fully grown, as are many of the Coot chicks and ducklings are starting to belatedly appear in the ditches. Most of the noise at the moment is coming from the reed beds, where Reed and Sedge Warblers are busy rearing first broods and isolated bushes and scrub along the reserve boundary echo to the relentless song of Whitethroats. Butterflies remain very scarce so far, although Common Blues have started to appear in the meadows this week but normally by now we would have hundreds of Peacock butterfly caterpillars feeding on the nettles, but none so far.
Springwatch is back on our screens for another three week session from RSPB Minsmere. What a shame that a potentially very good programme from a superb location is being ruined yet again by the inane witterings of the three presenters. Chris Packham comes across as such an up his own arse pratt who looks down his nose at most people, the Strachan woman stands alongside him like some nodding donkey and always grinning and the other bloke, well, an idiot.