Monday 7 March 2011

Could This be Spring?

Our three man team carried out this month's WEBS counts on the reserve yesterday afternoon in bitter cold temperatures, under grey skies and in a ENE wind. For a change I had the section below Harty Church where a wader roost tradionally builds up on the saltings at high tide. There are three salt water pools on the saltings there, either side of an old salt workings mound, which as well as serving as the roost area are also used in the winter by the Swale Wader Group as their bird catching and ringing site.
My third of the WEBS counts amounted to the following:- 1 Little Egret - 40 Brent Geese - 70 Shelduck - 140 Wigeon - 8 Teal - 8 Oystercatcher - 60 Avocet - 320 Grey Plover - 200 Knot - 400 Dunlin - 340 Barwits - 60 Curlew - 12 Redshank.
Also 5 Red Breasted Merganser on The Swale and 1 S.E. Owl hunting along the grass banks I was counting from.

I went back there again earlier this morning and was in another world - Spring had appeared overnight, actual blue skies and sunshine, and so I took some photos to record the event. Double click on them to enlarge them.
Although this doesn't show the slope of the banks very well, it looks down to the three ponds on the saltings with the salt workings mound just before the last pond to the extreme the right.

Behind me as I took the above photo is the rear of the tiny Harty Church, which has superb views across The Swale to the mainland.

Further along the banks you can make out the Ferry House Inn in the distance. The reserve ends about a quarter of a mile before that.

At the end of the "Gravel Road", where the banks begin, this view looks east and shows all the flat marsh of most of the reserve.


  1. Lovely Springlike photos! Blue skies and sunshine make such a difference to us all Derek, I'm glad you have some at last, we do too :)

    Standing in the bitter cold for your count was rewarded with some good numbers of birds which I struggle to find just one of and in some cases never see at all. The Avocet is just one bird I have never seen but would love to.

  2. Jan,

    I'm sure your last paragraph is something we all say at some time - we don't get things like Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal or Marsh Tits on Sheppey at all, which other people find just as normal as my Avocets. They were a lovely sight though, all packed into one pool on the saltings and at breeding time their chicks look really funny as small balls of fluff on long legs.

  3. Spring ? No Derek, its called crappy weekend weather followed by lovely Monday weather, Grrr... Not that it bothers you though, every days a weekend :-)

    Keep watching those bushes, a Nuthatch might just turn up :-)

  4. Warren, what you moaning about, you had the warmest part off during the afternoon, so you didn't miss all of it, and not only that, as you freely admit, as soon as it gets too warm you won't like that either.