Sunday 2 August 2015

Glorious Harty

Early morning today on Harty and the reserve saw one of those visits where it was just such a real privilege to be out and about on such a glorious morning.
At 6.00 this morning the weather was absolutely pristine and breasting the top of Capel Hill the last of the dawn mist was still rising above the length of Capel Fleet.

This was the view along Capel Fleet itself.

Where this Grey Heron stood on it's daily perch being lit by the early morning sun, with the mist as a backdrop.

Half a mile along the road, there was no mist and the corn had now been harvested to leave golden stubble, which I imagine has already been re-sown with rape for next year's crop.

Much of the stubble has been baled and haystacks will now begin to rise up from some of the fields, providing warm winter roosts for the likes of Barn Owls and Kestrels.

This is not a very good photo but you can just make out the two dots in the sky that were hot air balloons as they drifted along the hills on the mainland.

Walking past the reserve's cattle, they at first ignored the dogs and I, but then decided it'd be fun to follow us, so around 50yds behind us we had a line of cattle going back some 100 yds. We had their company for some time before deciding that eating grass was a better option.

While taking this photo of one of the reserve's better ditches, in order to illustrate how far the water level has dropped....

....I became aware of movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see this Stoat working it's way along the water's edge and it froze for a moment and watched me.

How beautiful stoats are.

This is the final last drop of water in the large Flood Field, it will be gone by next weekend and that will be it as far as water goes, until very late in the year.

It really was beautifully quiet out there this morning and the only real sound was that of occasional passenger planes as they went across the sky, leaving their vapour trails as the went.

Here you can see how much the Kestrel chick has now grown since my last post and it has been joined by one of it's two siblings. Hopefully the third one is still in the box and will shortly be joining them.

On a more serious note, the persecution of Hen Harriers on grouse moors, while illegal, is still going on and it is clear that those involved with driven grouse shooting are the main culprits. Hen Harriers (a painting of a beautiful male is seen below), urgently need protection from the actions of the moors managements and to advise people of what is going on, Mark Avery has just published a new book on the subject entitled "Inglorious".
I had my reservations about buying it, assuming that it would just be one long "anti" rant about grouse shooting, but it is anything but and I couldn't put it down. It is extremely well written and gives an easy to understand history of grouse shooting, what they do that is wrong, how harrier breeding successes have diminished and the various attempts by numerous groups in recent years to try and get government support for a ban on this form of shooting. It is a book that should be read by both sides of the fence before judgements can be made, and for those that would wish to support the call for a ban, I believe the petition can be found here


  1. A morning to savour Derek. With any luck we have still got three months of clement weather to enjoy...

  2. Let's hope so Steve, with a bit of overnight rain thrown in at regular intervals.

  3. Yes, the overnight rains are the nicest! We had a little one last night with more light and sound than rain, but every bit helps. You had a fine morning, indeed.

  4. Sounds a cracking morning - interesting to see changes as the seasons progress. Partly why I prefer patch-watching. Nice Stoat - when I see them they're like lightning so well-captured. It's ages since I've seen one but last week saw two (you wait ages for one etc).
    The guy behind the male Hen Harrier on the blockhouse has painted a new one of a female:

    Don't forget this Sunday is Hen Harrier day!

  5. Thanks for the link Arnold - another fine painting.

  6. I have just moved to sheppey. Wonder if you could guide me and my 2 Jacks around the Leyssdown area? please email me on