Since I wrote my last "It's a Scorcher" posting, the weather has taken a dramatic turn and seemed to have rushed head-long into autumn, despite it still being August. Over the last seven days we have had two Atlantic storms come rushing in, both the subject of now giving them silly names, in this case Storm Ellen and now, Storm Francis. In the old days we were simply told to expect some stormy weather, which in autumn was normally par for the course, but now they have to be hyped up with name calling, presumably to make them sound more dramatic.
At the onset of Storm Francis yesterday morning, we had 4-5 hours of decent and much needed rain for the parched countryside round here. However, as seems to happen every time at the moment, immediately the rain stopped the afternoon became one of warm sunshine and severe gales - the result being much evaporation of that rain again.
Anyway, enough of that, what else has been occurring, well not a lot to be honest, thanks to the parched conditions, bird-life on the marshes and the reserve here, has been somewhat at a premium. Until that is, last Friday. I was walking across the reserve early in the morning, a tad bored because parched grass and almost dry ditches create very little interest to look at, when a different coloured heron, fast disappearing into a ditch, caught my eye. I slowly walked along the ditch until up sprung the heron in front of me. Yes, certainly a heron species and certainly different. It had a long and heavy, bright yellow bill and was basically a combination of light and brown colours with an almost gingery effect. It was also slightly slimmer and smaller than the normal Grey Heron. Although I'd never seen one before I had a fairly good idea what it was and went home to consult my bird books.
The next morning I walked along the same ditch and up it popped again to confirm what I suspected, it was a juvenile Purple Heron, an uncommon to almost rare bird in this country. Since then it has remained on the reserve.
In anticipation of the rain that was due yesterday and did briefly appear, the farmer next door to the reserve was out a couple of days ago, sowing the wheat stubble with rape seed for next years crop. Driving across the marsh this morning it was clear that germination of the seed would take a while yet, the fields were dust dry and unless you live round here, it's hard to explain to people just how much rain we need to bring things back to normal.
The next main event in the reserve calendar occurs early morning next Tuesday 1st September, when the new wildfowling season begins. Before dawn on Tuesday wildfowlers will be in position the other side of the reserve sea wall, eagerly hoping for the chance to shoot any goose or duck that might fly over the sea wall towards them. I will be there at first light to watch events and to have a chat with them afterwards.