Wednesday 12 December 2012

Scarecrows and Frost

Four weeks ago the field above was green and lush with 3in high winter corn. Two weeks ago a flock of 600-800 Brent Geese found it and spent every day then after, eating the green leaves and gradually mowing their way across it from one end to the other. They have left the corn no higher than the soil it is growing from and although with mild weather it will almost certainly recover, it will be some weeks behind where it should be. Somewhat "after the horse has bolted", the farmer has now put a couple of scarecrows and a gas gun into the field and since then the Brents have not returned, but I think that's more a case of nothing left to eat than being scared off.
The extent of lost corn foliage is quite great and its easy to see why farmers eventually lose their patience with the geese and apply for licenses to begin shooting them, although the license issue is greatly flawed.

After a night of severe frost and freezing fog here on Sheppey, this morning after the fog cleared, turned out to be quite scenic with blue skies and sunshine lighting up the hoar frost covering every bush and tree. Here below you can see the frosted hedgerow along the Harty Road, which incidentally, was packed with Fieldfares and Redwings as I drove past.

The concrete track running down to the reserve from Elliotts Farm looked equally as impressive.

On the reserve itself this morning, I never saw that much because shortly after I got there the mist rolled in really thickly again and stayed like that for an hour, before disappearing just as quickly. At first it was quite weird because I had sunshine in front of me and closing in fast behind was a thick wall of mist. It was a bit like a film I saw one time with Jamie Lee Curtis in it, called "The Fog".

Any way, as I say, the mist cleared, the sun re-appeared and I couldn't resist this second photo of another one of the neighbouring scarecrows, this one looking quite ghostly as it stood there.


  1. Derek

    That first photo is a cracker - really caught the atmosphere of what was a very cold, frosty morning.


  2. Thanks Adam, both scarecrows in some ways, had a more scary effect on humans than birds.
    Good to see you posting again.

  3. Derek, we've had the same discussion here about geese and crops, and its been shown that on balance there are more benefits - the pruned plants produce stronger shoots and the manure from 600 geese is substantial.

  4. I agree Sidney, years ago farmers would sometimes graze their sheep on winter corn to give the animals a temporary boost when grass was in short supply. In my experience the crop suffered little from its pruning, caught up quite reasonably and often produced more ears as a result of being encouraged to branch out.
    Unfortunately, many modern-day farmers don't understand or accept this fact and simply see the goose grazing as destructive. In reality, the only damage likely to accur is if the large flock are on a field that is very wet and consequently turning the surface into muddy mess with their feet.