Sunday 9 June 2013

March winds and summer sun

The weather this last week has once again thrown up one of those "when did we last" weather questions that have been do dominant this year so far. This week it was a case of when did we last have NE winds persist so strongly in June. Every day this last week it has been the same pattern. The walk round the reserve being undertaken each morning with a coat on and head down into a strong and cold wind under heavy grey skies - weather reminiscent of a typical week in March. If it was March it would be considered reasonable weather but in June when your thoughts are on warmth and dragonflies, bees and butterflies, it wasn't pleasant and greatly spoiled each day. The afternoons also repeated themselves in that by lunch time the sun would burst through, blue skies would dominate and if you could get out of that dammed chilly wind it was really warm. In the afternoons the wind was silly because on one side of a hedge you could be roasting but on the other, windy side, you'd almost need a coat back on. What's next in this year of unusual weather patterns I wonder, snow in summer, surely not and that would be stretching the memory bank.

The breeding season on the reserve has now peaked and it's now more a case of seeing what young birds have survived both the weather and predation. At the moment it looks as though both Lapwings and Redshanks, especially Redshanks, are set to have much better seasons than of late and the perfect conditions in the Flood field have seen what is probably our best Avocet breeding colony recorded. What has been difficult, with the increasing height of the vegetation in there, is just how many Avocet chicks have been produced but I have seen a few chicks running around. Another thing with Avocets once they have young chicks is their habit of moving the chicks away from the breeding area. The parents and chicks can become quite nomadic at times and currently on the reserve, several pairs have walked their chicks away from the Flood and are now to be found along the muddy rills that are a spread around the flat grazing fields. If nothing else it can reduce concentrations of chicks being found in one place and therefore reduce the predation risk.

But to go back to the weather this week, it really hasn't made for an enjoyable time on the reserve. Standing on the seawall in early June in the same coat that you wore in the winter, being buffeted by cold winds and watching the tall reed beds being smashed to and fro isn't fun. I find myself thinking about Reed Warblers and the nests that they twine between the stems, will those nests have been wrenched apart by the wind action. In all probability it's just us humans that react to such unseasonable weather in the way that we do, wildlife probably just take it as it comes and adjust, perhaps we should stop believing what is forecast for us weather-wise each week, perhaps we should forget about sayings such as "flaming June" and simply think "flipping June".

But a bit of good news, I'm down at the girlfriend's in Surrey as I write this and whilst walking round a huge area of heathland yesterday, in glorious warm sunshine I might add, I saw my first ever Adder basking in the sun. We don't have Adders on Sheppey, or the habitat that suits them and so both were a real bonus for me. Couple that with a Red Kite flying over her garden during the afternoon yesterday and if nothing else a bad week is ending on a positive note, albeit I've had to get away from Sheppey and that nagging NE wind for it to happen.


  1. How I would love to see a wild Adder. Not sure where in Kent is my nearest location. One to think about!

  2. It took me 65 years Marc and then not in Kent. Perhaps Greenie wuould have an idea.
    Certainly a fabulous sight to see.

  3. Spot on Derek, when will that wind subside. I think it may happen by the end of this week,going round to SW!! A great sight an adder saw my last one in Dorset, but i know there are several bloggers who regularly see them in Kent.