Saturday 28 April 2018

Shit Weather

Well, after the euphoria in my last two postings, due to a seven day spell of almost hot and sunny weather after a wet and cold early Spring, this week has slowly sunk back into that cold and wet Spring. It rained off and on most of yesterday and coming home after most of the day out and about, I had to put the Central Heating back on in order to warm up.
As I write this, early on Saturday morning, it is raining hard, it's gloomy and it's cold. Fortunately, by going out with little Ellie at 06.00, I managed to get a less than enthusiastic walk round a wet reserve before this current rain begun. Long, wet grass and cold conditions do not bode well for ant Lapwing chicks that are getting wet and cold without being able to dry out in warm, sunny weather.

To further add to my depression there is a weather warning currently out for Sunday night and all day Monday here in the South East, for heavy rain and gale-force N winds that could lead to some surface flooding.  It's very difficult to feel any kind of positivity at the moment.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Another Early Morning

I was on the reserve by 06.30 this morning and with blue skies and sunshine beginning to quickly disperse the early mist, it looked quite superb.
This is what it looked like when I turned up.

Quickly the mist burnt off and as it did so, from the reed beds on the reserve, came the "booming" calls of a Bittern, a sound like somebody blowing across the top of a bottle, but amplified.

 Not a breath of wind and total calmness, with the variegated foliage of Milk Thistle in the foreground.

 The Flood Field looked as it should do, with a few white birds in it........

 ........which turned out to be these Avocets.

 The Tower Hide

The Coot's nest from yesterday's blog had increased to nine eggs!

Ellie, looking as lovely as ever,

Saturday 21 April 2018

Early Reserve

A few photographs of the reserve looking quite good early this morning.
How we and the wildfowl would of loved to have seen it look back in mid-winter.

Two views of the "S Bend Ditch" - bone dry at the end of February. Although you can't see it, it curls across the marsh in the shape of an S

 Looking across towards the neighbouring farmland, with the reserve barn part hidden in the bushes in the foreground.

This Coot was doing it's best not to be noticed on it's nest.

And a second Coot's nest nearby. I will monitor it to see if all 8 eggs survive the attention of the local crows.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Here comes the Sun

After an awful week's weather last week where on most days it was grey skies, dampness and difficult to see further than about half a mile through the mist and gloom, the light finally came on. But the weather on Saturday was like coming out from a tunnel, it was sunny all day and reasonably warm, would it last though, boy has it. We have had three days so far of increasingly warm and sunny days, with today being cloudless all day and a temperature peaking at 25 degrees and tomorrow could see us reach 28 degrees. All of a sudden it feels great to be alive, the grass on the grazing marsh looks greener, the flowers of bulbs are bursting open in colour and lambs frolic in the fields - at last a belated Spring has finally arrived!
Not only has Spring arrived but with the wind coming up from the south, the Spring migrants, those birds that travel north from Africa to share summer with us, have also started to arrive, an exaltation of good times ahead. So far I've seen Swallows, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Yellow Wagtails, Wheatear, Whimbrel and Whitethroat, the best mid-April for migrants I've had for a few years.

The reserve couldn't look much better than it did today in the sunshine. Plenty of wet areas, plenty of fresh, green grass for the cattle and their calves that are expected soon, everything looks good.

Away from the reserve the Parish Council Speedwatch team that I'm part of, were out earlier this morning monitoring one of our busy roads. We've endured several minus chill factor mornings doing it since the New Year but today was our first really warm and comfortable sessions. We're very visible but out of 405 vehicles that passed us in one hour, we still recorded for the Police website, 17 speeding motorists. A low total when you consider that at one site we often record 60 speeding motorists in one hour, virtually one a minute! We get some abuse from people, such as "get a life you silly old farts" (we're all retired), but it's difficult to understand why some people expect to be able to speed and potentially cause deaths without being recorded.

Also this afternoon, my bicycle came out of winter storage and I had a pleasant ride along the nearby seafront, where the tide was high and calm. No actual swimmers yet but many in shorts and T shirts enjoying the beach.

It's been a good few days, how could anybody not enjoy experiencing it.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Easter Sunday - closed for business

I'm down at my partner's house in beautiful Surrey this weekend, so a change in scenery, though just as wet, where isn't at the moment!
We were hoping to buy plants and manure,etc. today and get stuff planted in her garden before tomorrow's very wet day that is forecast. Unfortunately garden centers are not allowed to be open on Easter Sunday for some reason that mystifies me and  so we decided to get out in the cold and wet countryside and enjoy that as best as we could.
Below is the River Broadwater, which was in full flood and flowing very fast.

The Broadwater is formed where the River Blackwater to the left and the River Whitewater to the right, converge........

........ as you can see

 In several places it had begun to flood over into the adjacent water meadows.

What did amuse us was the fact that snails alongside the river had climbed the dead vegetation in big numbers to make sure that they escaped the flood waters.

Further back along the River Blackwater, there is a ford which at times like today, becomes impassable for cars and means a lengthy trip round the lanes to rejoin the other side.

Further along one lane we came across a bridge across the River Whitewater with unusually, a county boundary right in the middle of it - Berkshire to the left and Hampshire to the right.

 Looking back into Hampshire.

Finally, one of the river's residents, a Grey Wagtail.