Saturday, 12 February 2011

Singing in the Rain

Another blog without photos I'm afraid, just never bright enough to take them.

I got up this morning at 5.45 to the depressing and now familiar sound of rain on the conservatory roof, this winter really is starting to grind. I suppose with it starting much earlier this time, in November in fact, we've had four continuous bad months instead of the recent style of just two after Christmas. Whatever, I guess that most of us "outsider" types must be suffering from some degree of SAD Syndrome by now.
By 6.45 the rain appeared to have stopped and so I said, sod it, and left for the reserve, mud or no mud and I think it was a good decision. As I rounded Capel Corner on the Harty Road in the half-light of dawn, a Barn Owl drifted across the road in front of the car, further along at Elliots Farm, another did the same and as I travelled down the track to the reserve barn, another watched me from a post top literally just five feet away!

Ten minutes later I was on top of the seawall and several things were immediately obvious.
Firstly, despite the fact that they still have seven shooting days left, there were no wildfowlers out this morning. Now, despite the fact that I have become increasingly sympathetic to some of their views this winter, I have to say that to see wildfowl flying around freely in the sky this morning, without the instant barrage of steel shot echoing around, was really enjoyable, its been a long six months.
Secondly, it had started to rain steadily again and so I was in for a soaking, which most definitely I got - that doesn't help the old arthritis a bit but never mind, couldn't be arsed with that today.
Thirdly, despite the gloom and the rain it was very mild and was probably one reason for the fourth observation - the marsh was full of the sound of bird calls.

Greylag Geese were very vocal as they continued to pair up and squabble amongst each other. Mallard and Teal drakes were carrying out various courtship displays and their whistles and quacking could be heard from all quarters, as could Redshanks. Redshanks are not seen that much on the marsh in the winter, they prefer the shoreline and mudflats, but now they were back and their piping calls echoed all round the marsh. It really was so uplifting to hear so much going on and even a couple of pairs of Lapwings got into the act, wheeling and diving and "peewitting" as they went.
Lastly, along the tops of the reeds in the Delph Fleet, several male Reed Buntings were spread out at regular intervals, announcing their territory with the repetitive call notes that they use in the breeding season.

Yep, despite the rain down my neck and the mud underfoot, the marsh was buzzing this morning and there was something in the air. What was it Bob Dylan said - "there's a stillness in the wind before the hurricane begins" - well there's no hurricane beginning but there was a stillness in the wind this morning and it whispered, Spring is almost here.

But till then - well tomorrow late afternoon, we have our monthly Harrier Roost Count to carry out and the weather is forecast to be, steady rain with a freshening wind, so another soaking looks on the cards.


  1. Well, you may not have been able to use your camera Derek but what a lovely picture you gave us, I could 'see' it all and a wonderful sight it was! I really felt I was there with you. Those Barn Owls must have been a lovely start to your visit. So nice too that the birds were unhampered this morning by wildfowlers or wildfoulers as I prefer to think of them.

    I loved your line ' well there's no hurricane beginning but there was a stillness in the wind this morning and it whispered, Spring is almost here.'

    Good luck with the Harrier Roost Count, try not to get too wet!

  2. Thanks Jan, there was definitely a feel of Spring there this morning.

  3. Hi Derek,Thanks for your comment.Dungeness,Romney and Harty are all a bit "mystical"for me.I feel reminded that nature is bigger than I am.
    We will return,and park at the viewing point rather than the town next time,and bring binoculars too.We're off to Faversham Creek this week for a short 5 mile walk.
    My connection with the Island was as a Radio Engineer,Warden CGuard,Knights Tugs,Lift Bridge,Steelworks,Ambulance,Docks,etc etc.

  4. Twisden

    You might also like to know that in this area us Sheppey-ites are known as "Swampies", which is much nicer than another old nick-name "Sheep"