Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Winter Approaches

It has been a long and wet day today with pretty much continuous rain throughout it. It began for me with my third morning on the trot getting soaked on the reserve and seeing very little bird life for my efforts. Even the large flock of Greylag Geese have moved away, although who can blame them, they were getting shot at twice a day. Birds really have been at a premium this last few weeks, numbers of ducks you can count on one hand and apart from the odd Chiffchaff moving through, the only substantial group pf birds has been a flock of around 110 Linnets feeding daily in a farmland cover strip of Chickory, etc., just over the fence. Clearly the summer is now receding behind us and autumn is well under way.

Although it'll still be some time before the rain makes any major impression on the reserve's water levels and we end up with scenes such as the one below, it's at least re-dressing the balance out there and the effects of the drought are fast diminishing.

The one down side of that is the fact that it is now become increasingly arduous walking round as the cattle do a good job of turning bone dry gateways and tracks into areas of deep, clinging mud, it's amazing how quickly they can churn up areas of wet soil. Mind you, whilst mentioning the cattle, one of the regular topics of conversation just lately has been the speed at which the grazing marsh has become lush and green again. It's been some years since so much grass has been available to the stock at this time of year. The lawns at home have gone the same way, all of a sudden it's a job to keep up with the mowing - a couple of nice frosts would help slow things down.

And so autumn takes over and people get all lyrical about what a wonderful season that it is, and so it can be, with all the wonderful colours in the woods and mists and dewy cobwebs, etc. etc., but for me it is spoiled by the fact that it heralds in the winter. I really cannot enjoy the winter season for a number of reasons but paramount among them is the short days and the long hours of darkness. Sorry, but for me there is nothing in winter that can compete with being on the marsh at 5.00 on a summer's morning when everything is fresh, the birds are active and the sun is just starting to warm the day up. And of course those late summer's evenings sitting in the garden as it cools down, watching the sun sink low in the western sky, swifts screaming in large gathering overhead and seeing the bats as they start to hawk the twilight for their prey. Being pitch dark and very cold by tea-time for months on end really is a depressing thought each year, some animals really have cracked it by hibernating through the winter. Every October when I pack my tortoises away for the winter I really do envy them the fact that when they next wake up it will be the Spring again, how great is that!

The warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the year
On the earth her deathbed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Is lying........................Percy Bysshe Shelley


  1. Yes Derek, but you can watch Strictly, I'm a Celebrity and X-factor on the TV... oh, hold on, you've got a point. Winter is crap...

  2. Whilst I can't confess to being a fanatical winter lover, you can't beat a crisp winters morning I think. There is plenty to see, sadly no dragonflies but it makes you work harder for the rewards. I do admit , going to work and coming home in the dark does nothing for me and its always nice when the days start to lengthen.

  3. I'm with you in regard to winter, Derek. I have no need or desire for it. I highly recommend a "tropical winter" ; high temps close to 80F (27C), lows around 65F (18C), shortest day length around 11 hrs.

  4. Steve, that's my point. Dark by 5.00 and so you find yourself watching crap on TV - oh gawd!

    Marc, yes there are some rewarding days such as you suggest and a hard white frost under blue skies is one of them.

    Wilma, a "tropical winter" is something many of us dream about but rarely achieve, good on you and Dennis for getting off your butts and doing it.

  5. Hello, I just found you via Weaver's blog. Your reminiscing post of a few days ago struck a chord with me.

    You have an interesting life on Sheppey by the sound of things.

  6. Nice to hear from you Rachel.
    Yes, Sheppey has given me a lifetime of pleasant and interesting memories and it has some fascinating history.

  7. Hello Derek, nice to hear from you. We live at opposite ends of the country (although I originate from Lincolnshire, which is not quite so far North) but seem to have very similar interests. I have put you on my side bar and shall follow you from now on.

  8. Have just read your comment on making sloe gin - I don't think we have a single sloe on any of our bushes throughout the farm. Last year we had stones of sloes and also hazel nuts - no hazel nuts either this year. Plenty of crab apples though and the beast like these in mid-winter.