Sunday 6 May 2012

Could This be Winter

Well, these wintry conditions go on and on. I got up at 05.00 this morning hoping to carry out part of my second Nightingale survey, as I write this at 09.00 it has been raining non-stop for four hours and the outside temperature is just 6 degrees. So the survey has been scrapped again and I still wait to go to the reserve to check on a few things. And if the rain does eventually stop, the visit is hardly likely to be a pleasant experience, much wallowing around in mud, much water and a nagging icy cold wind blowing down my neck - in the winter you expect and prepare yourself for these conditions but not every day in mid-May.
So far this week, in the umpteenth week of a hosepipe ban due to a "drought", I have twice emptied my water butts down the drains because they keep on overflowing. What's more its looks absolutely guaranteed that I shall be doing that for some time, so bad is the forecast for the next few weeks. I keep getting this mental picture of thousand and thousands of people sitting in the Olympic stadium in a few months time, wearing thermal underwear and plastic macs, so great is the risk of planning an outside event in Britain. But, I will be ecstatic if hot and sunny weather eventually proves me wrong.

But to get back to the present and a more serious thought, I wonder how much this wet and wintery weather is affecting breeding wildlife, especially birds. Chicks can presumably suffer the wet but it is the constant cold that is the killer. Imagine those few days old, fluffy Lapwing chicks walking round in waterlogged fields, sodden and cold themselves all day and into the night and with no sun to warm them, it has to be a killer. Likewise, how many nests have been actually washed out by rising floodwaters, the examples go on and on and the prognosis looks like a really poor breeding season. We can only hope that in June the sun comes out for more than one day at a time and many birds have a go at re-breeding.

With light conditions for photos becoming as rare as a sunny day, I have re-posted the above photo in order that people know what I am referring to when I mention the "S Bend Ditch" and the Flood Scrape on the reserve. I took it myself a few years ago and while the "S Bend Ditch" is obvious, the Scrape is to the top LH side. If you double click on it, it comes up a bit better.


  1. Derek, sounds like Atlantic weather, 10C all the year round and steady rain. At leat, those scrapes will be full without any artificial help from a well.

  2. Sidney,

    Well all the scrapes and rills are certainly full and as you say, without any artificial help.
    Today, or at least this morning, we had a fabulous drop of weather at last, lots of warm sunshine, and everything seemed so much more alive and better.