Saturday, 24 June 2017

Summer was nice but brief.

After this last week's glorious but brief taste of real summer it was a bit of a shock to the system and somewhat depressing,when I arrived at the reserve early this morning. We were back to heavy grey skies and a cool and gusty wind. Two days ago I walked round wearing a thin polo shirt but today I needed a jumper as well. As I walked round in the less than perfect conditions, you'll forgive me for cursing those people, who after just a few days of decent weather, complained about it being to hot - presumably they're much happier now and will look forward to the week ahead, which is forecast to be cool, cloudy and showery.

So, back to the reserve and what's happening. The breeding season for some birds is already drawing to a close and various juveniles are being seen on a regular basis now. This morning I had both Pied and Yellow Wagtail juveniles and for the latter it has been the reserve's largest number of breeding pairs for many years. The Greylag Geese have also done particularly well, fledging around 60 goslings, although unfortunately, many of these possibly have only a couple of months to live before the wildfowlers return on the 1st September. The Barn Owls are also doing well and although the five chicks have now reduced to four, they were all successfully rung this week.
On the down side, Coots have done badly with only a few broods and Lapwings are pretty much a write-off, producing very few chicks. The reserve has been predominately dry now for almost a year and that lack of wet/damp habitat has has not produced the conditions or insect life that the Lapwings need.
The Cuckoos fell silent earlier in the week and are no doubt already part of the way back to their winter quarters in Africa and Swifts won't be long before they join them. It's not unusual, both of these species only make a brief visit to this country to breed and then they're off again.
The hot and dry weather of the last week has also favoured butterflies with a surge in their visible numbers. Meadow Browns have been a joy to see flitting across the longer grass of the grazing meadows in big numbers and in the last few days have been joined by the first Small Skippers, I just hope that the down-turn in the weather doesn't depress this lovely sight.

Lastly, the yellow wild flower known as Lady's Bedstraw, so known apparently, because in the Middle Ages women used it to stuff mattresses and pillows with, has always been a common, annual sight on the reserve. Today I noticed, that a couple of meadows have huge spreads of it in flower, carpeting the grass in a quantity that I have never seen before. I of course, forgot to take my camera with me.


  1. Glad the Yellow Wagtails have done well Derek. As for that glorious mass of Ladies Bedstraw? Please take a picture, I'd love to see it.

  2. Ladies Bedstraw has always been one of my Summer favourites Derek - along with Meadowsweet - both out in profusion here at present.
    Cooler here too.

  3. Derek, on a Saturday afternoon when NYC heat and humidity is a comfortable mix, it's been a real treat to check in on your recent posts and to learn what has been going on at the reserve. I also really liked the photo of the tiny owl in the box, and all the pictures of the flora and fauna.

    Yes, having now turned the mid-summer corner, I imagine that soon I will be no longer waking up about 5:30, well before the alarm clock's beeping. I admit that on some of my early waking mornings, my initial impulse has been to check the news to see what the current President might have set in motion overnight. He apparently doesn't sleep much.

    Thank you again for allowing me to learn about a place so different from where I live. Best wishes.