Friday, 21 May 2010

Orange Tips and Coppers

An early morning visit to the reserve today allowed me to experience everything that is good about May, easily my favourite month of the year - the gateway month to summer.
Just the drive along the Harty Road made it all worthwhile. The first section, closely bordered by tall hedges of white-flowered hawthorn, and then suddenly bursting out onto the crest of Capel Hill, with sheep grazed fields either side of the descending road and below you corn fields of dark green, alongside the vivid yellow of rape. I just love the intensity of the rape in flower and even on a dull day it still seems to reflect a brightness upwards, as though the sky had turned upside down.

Pulling up at the reserve's barn I was amazed to see three varieties of butterfly in the space of a few minutes. Firstly a pristine Small Copper alighted on the track, then two Orange Tips flew rapidly across one of the grazing fields and lastly, in some of the taller grass, the first Small Heath of the year was fluttering around. When butterflies start appearing like that and the weather is so warm early in the morning, you just know that summer has arived. At last as well, the grass is starting to grow quite quickly on the marsh and the grazing is starting to take on that lush look, much enjoyed I would imagine by a small herd of lovely Devon cattle that are lightly grazing it.
Sitting on top of one of the old salt workings mounds, soaking up the sun, watching the cattle and being serenaded by Skylarks and the buzzing of bees, its hard not get romantic about just about everything on days like that.

I had the opportunity the other day to look around a small piece of farmland on the edge of Minster that hasn't really changed much in the last century or so. Its only a collection of small meadows that run across to the highest point of Minster cliffs but the fields and their hedges and trees have a lot of old-time character that has been lost over a lot of Sheppey. Fortunately they have just been bought by a neighbouring farmer who farms very sympathetically towards nature and whose family in my opinion, own one of the prettiest farms on Sheppey, Tadwell Farm at Elm Lane. I hope to make more visits to the new purchase because there was certainly plenty of wildlife to see when I was there the other day.


  1. It was a cracking day today Derek ( pity I was working this am) As you say the butterflies were everywhere, and the Hawthorne looks ( and smells) wonderful.

  2. Hi Derek - you do us real birders proud...out there in the local patch doing the science - counting - if any one doesn't appreciate this they can speak to me!
    But also the depth of knowledge in an area...I love-
    I am just a birder who when released from London may be able to do what you do...but that has receded locally now...
    elected to the council and now being lead member on Environment and Transport(includes Heathrow!)in Hounslow Borough - well I will try to use any influence I might have - including when I might see a minister with any airport responsibility- (i will gain access working cross party)we have a brilliant tory member who knows her onions on Heathrow who worked with our now deputy leader- actually I am a little over whelmed that she has let me lead on her specialised subject! That trust!
    she has an enormous brief anyway!
    I am proud to have this responsibility but also aware I have such responsibilities- please ensure I do know how you residents feel about any issue thats in my brief - and if its not I will pass on to mt comrades who are members of the exe or to the relevant ward cllrs!

  3. sorry that went a bit wrong - if I can help in kent in any way when i do see tory ministers I wull be lobbying against developement at Hythe airport - but tell me any other areas I ought to know about in kent that are contentious!

  4. Corinna,

    Thanks for your comments, I get very little feed back in respect of my blog and so its always exciting when I do. One day perhaps, I'll learn how to add photographs and make it more interesting.
    You certainly know how to pack things into your day don't you, looks like you're going to be very busy now that you're a councillor in such a high profile borough.