So far here in North Kent, we've had over a week of dry weather and no rain. Some days have seen almost hot sunshine, some cloudy but humid weather and for most days there has been a strong and drying wind. Consequently, local landowners have at last, begun and successfully completed, hay-making. They have now begun harvesting the rape fields and this too is going very well and so all of a sudden, the weather related doom and gloom has gone and things are catching up. This is also apparent in the other arable fields of wheat and barley, the wet and warm weather has filled the ears with plump grains and yields look like they should be fairly high. The only downside of that is the high Black Grass content through the grain fields. Despite all their best efforts, farmers seem to be facing an uphill battle against this weed. It appears to have become resistant to spraying and so deep ploughing in the autumn has been the most recent suggestion. This has the effect of burying the seeds deep enough to stop them germinating and also has the beneficial effect of opening up compacted soil to improve drainage. Unfortunately fields here on Sheppey that were deep ploughed a couple of years ago, still have a 40% infestation of Black Grass this year, I guess there's little you can do if the seed is in the wheat seed that you buy in and sow.
I had a Hedgehog in my back garden early yesterday morning, which, given the slug infested and overgrown nature of it, makes for pretty ideal habitat for the creatures and I'd love to have them reside there. Unfortunately, owning two terriers, I've had to do my best to keep them out which is a real shame and I miss having them here and feel guilty at not helping an animal that is in dire straight these days.
I read an enormous amount of books each year, still in the old-fashioned, non-kindle way. I favour autobiographies and biographies, especially those about privileged people from the 1930's and 40's and especially members of the Bloomsbury Set. Currently I'm reading a new one by the Countryside farmer Adam Henson about his life to date and prior to that an 820 page book on Paul MCartney and another about the artist Sir Alfred Munnings and his life in an artists community in Cornwall pre WW1.
The reserve is now very overgrown and settling down into the post breeding lull, only butterflies and the start of returning wader migrants now seek to break the ordinary-ness of each day. Green Sandpipers and Greenshanks are beginning to pass through on early autumn migration and Cuckoos have already left. Below is a badly taken photo of a Gatekeeper butterfly on Ragwort, a plant that is a saviour to so many insects on the marsh in the summer.
I came across this small toadstall/fungus peeping out of the grass yesterday and have never seen one before. According to my wildlife book it is a Blackening Wax Cap but I'm happy to be corrected on that.