Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Yesterday, Monday, was the best day of this early Spring so far. It was warm and sunny and the first time that I was able to walk round the reserve without a coat on, I really enjoyed it. Today, under grey skies and with a chilly wind, we're back to square one, it's not particularly pleasant.
Getting back to yesterday, we carried out the last of the Wetland Bird Surveys (WEBS) until next autumn, planned as always, to coincide with the high tide, due on this visit at 13.00. The warm sunshine and a gentle breeze had made the ground seem even dryer and harder as I walked round and I wasn't expecting to record that many wetland birds as a result.
The wind pump does it's best to pump up fresh water from the underground aquifer but in reality it only keeps wet an area inside a 100yd radius around it.

The rest of the reserve remains in rainfall denial, as this old but vital crossing plank demonstrates. The ditch isn't as deep as it looks, only about six inches, normally at this time of the year the water would be level with, or over it.

But not to worry, the walk round had Lapwing pairs doing their lovely "peewitting" courtship displays and Skylarks rose up high into the blue sky at regular intervals and sent down waterfalls of song to cascade over us. I only had small counts of the waders and wildfowl that I was there to record but had a good variety of species, including Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Coot, Shoveler, Shelduck, Curlew, Lapwing and Little Grebe. There were 80 of the resident Greylag Geese and best of all, 160 White-fronted Geese (below) still lingered on before returning to their far northern breeding grounds.
A total of eight Marsh Harriers were active across the reserve, often soaring high into the sky to become small specks, only noticeable by their plaintive call notes that made you look up and search for them. It was a real, small taste of the summer to come and I sat on the sea wall and savoured it and as if to confirm my thoughts, the first butterflies of the year came by, two Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock, such simple joys.
Ellie meanwhile, bored with such inactivity, had wandered off a short way to inspect some mole hills in the vain hope that one of the little, furry tunnellers might be near the surface and catchable but they rarely are. It was a really uplifting day and a shame that today couldn't of been the same.


  1. "Skylarks rose up high into the blue sky at regular intervals and sent down waterfalls of song to cascade over us"...Eat your heart out Shakespeare! Derek Faulkner is The Bard of Sheppey. You should visit Hiawatha House on my bloglist. The guy who runs that has been a keen birdwatcher for years over in Alberta, Canada.

  2. Thanks for your praise YP, I try my best.

  3. Good to see that things are warming up for you Derek. Could you give us non-birders some insight into how you perform the count in these surveys? Do you use a mechanical tally counter or have years of experience granted you the ability to do it all in your head? I’m curious as to how you deal with large, mobile flocks etc. Thanks

  4. Ian, some people use small, hand held counters but the normal method, having identified the species that you are counting, is to roughly count say 10, 50, or a 100 birds, dependant on how big the flock is, and simply multiply that through the flock. With high tide roosts the birds are all gathered on the shore-side or field so it's fairly easy, mobile birds are a tad more difficult and of course, you don't get an exact figure.