As I write this, it's lunch time on the 3rd May and the conditions outside my window make it look like a typical winter's day. Heavy grey clouds are being sped across the sky on very cold NE winds and since early morning sheets of heavy drizzle and rain have blasted across the fields opposite. In short, it is cold, wet and windy and I have just briefly put the central heating on to take the chill off of the house, there is little sign of late Spring or early Summer yet.
April has now been officially recorded as one of the driest on record and last week, the end of the month, it was also bitterly cold, but for the gardens at least, our drought seems to be over for the moment. The regular bouts of rain that we've had this last few days have not been heavy or prolonged enough to make any difference to water levels on the marsh or the reserve but they have at least softened up the lawns and flower beds. If only the wind direction would now change for a prolonged spell, it seems to have been from a cold northerly direction for ages now and the forecast for the next seven days is more of the same.
It was heart-breaking during a brief, wet and cold visit to the reserve this morning, to see newly arriving swallows skimming low as possible across the marsh, heading into the bitter cold and rainy wind as they made their way north for the summer, insects must of been in very short supply! So, April was bone dry and rarely very warm and now May has started both cold and wet, it's looking pretty dire for wildlife so far. Talking of the reserve, thanks to April's drought, breeding counts continue to remain very low, just six broods of Lapwing chicks so far, at least 50% down on previous years by this time and just one successful Coot family. Unfortunately it's one of those situations that is out of the reserve management's hands, the water supply comes from one source, the skies above. All the storage areas available are of no use if they aren't re-filled by winter rains and not only that, in one of those vicious circle, can't win events, now we have some rain, that too could now be harmful because it's cold rain. Imagine those little fluffy, few days old plover chicks, getting soaking wet in this rain and then being chilled all day by an icy wind. Wildlife has very fine balances to negotiate a lot of the time.