Wednesday 25 July 2012

Hot and Sunny Days

 Mid-summer and at long last we have a prolonged spell of hot and sunny weather. The reserve has had an amazing turn round this week as a result of the weather change. On Saturday morning it received six hours heavy rain which left much surface water and re-filled the rills and yet by today it has already returned to dry surfaces and fast drying out rills, such is the strength of the sun.  All round the reserve the farmland is a hive of activity as the farmers are desperately trying to catch up with both hay and rape harvesting at the same time, knowing the wheat isn't far behind as well.
On Monday afternoon we resumed our monthly WEBS counts after stopping them in March, but they didn't produce any spectacular counts, the ducks for instance totaled 4 Mallard and a pair of Tufties. Oystercatchers at Shellness Point were also well below normal levels with only around 500+ birds, but Curlews held up with c. 450 birds. The most noticeable event on the day was the incredible heat on top of the seawall as I made my way along it, so hard to equate that with the snow and ice of the winter as I carried out Harrier Roost counts there.
The duck numbers still continue to plummet and once again the actions of the profitable but damaging farmland duck shooting around corn-fed flight ponds, where ducks are regularly shot in large numbers, raises the question of how much longer this can continue before birds such as Mallard become an uncommon species.
But enough of that, the reserve is now settling into its post-breeding and annually quiet period, little will happen now before the autumn, so a few more flowers and things from the reserve:-

Meadow Vetchling

The forest of dead Milk Thistle plants, little left now but to drop seeds for a repeat performance next year.

The lovely Great Willowherb, a favourite of the Skipper butterfly family. Followed by one of my favourite caterpillars, those of Cinnabar Moth feeding on Ragwort plants.

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