It has been an unexpectedly hot and sunny day here in North Kent and even better, without the wind that seems to blow most days this summer.
Walking past one of the large reed beds on the reserve this morning I could hear the familiar "pinging" calls of Bearded Tits. They do breed in the reed beds and I quickly came across four juvenile birds working their way through the reed stems, two of which are shown below.
Every year I look for these, my favourite caterpillars, the larva of the Cinnabar Moth. Such distinctive colours as they munch their way through the leaves of the Ragwort plants.
I also came across this thistle, heavily infested with black aphids, to the delight of the local ants. Ants milk the aphids for a sticky substance that they produce and which the ants feed on. Quite often the ants will carry aphids to new plants so that the infestation cycle can continue and the ants maintain their food supply. If you look closely in the center of the photo, you can see a black ant in the process of milking some of the ants.
Several hundred yards from my bungalow is one of the main routes into the town of Sheerness. We know it as the "Coastal Road because just the other side of the shingle bank to the right, that acts as a sea wall, is the sea. In the center of the photograph is the cycle path that I ride most days during the summer months.
This is the view from the top of the shingle bank, looking out into the Thames Estuary, where large ships pass daily, making their way into near-by Sheerness Docks or carrying on up the Thames towards London. I have this view, a tad more distant, as I sit in my study writing this.
And looking back eastwards along the seaward side of the shingle bank towards the ever eroding clay cliffs, a mile or so away. A wide promenade runs along the base of those cliffs for part of their length.
Lastly, as I cycled through the local cemetery this afternoon, I was delighted to come across large numbers of this lovely coloured wild flower, Orange Hawkweed. I've never seen it anywhere else on Sheppey but it is apparently common in churchyards and has the delightful country name of Fox and Cubs.