In my last posting, I hastily made the suggestion that the heatwave was over, that has not turned out to be the case, a couple of gloomy, chilly days soon reverted to the relentless heat, sunshine and dryness that preceded those days. Yesterday in the media, appeared Met. Office aerial photographs of the whole of the UK in May, coloured lovely and green and this month with it coloured mostly yellow/brown. So, with temps. over the next several days forecast to be in the high 20's-low 30's we remain in the throws of a heatwave that is fast starting to equal that experienced in the famous one of 1976.
On the reserve, the breeding season has more or less finished and we're now entering the quiet, between seasons spell which can become quite boring. Many of the birds are now beginning their annual moult and as a result don't sing much and have become quite secretive and listless. Birds such as Lapwings and Curlews, that probe the ground for invertebrates to eat, obviously haven't a chance of doing that in soil like concrete so have mostly moved out to the low-tide mudflats. The one think that this time of the tear is note-able for is Horse Flies and this year is no exception. These large flies follow you all round the grazing marsh, buzzing noisily around you as they attempt to alight on your skin and boy do they bite. Their bite is like someone sticking a red hot needle in your skin and can often turn septic, people watching me from a distance must wonder why I'm walking round with arms going like a windmill all the time.
On the farmland alongside the reserve the rape crop has now been harvested, albeit with low tonnages according to the farmer, thanks to the dry soil. The wheat and barley crops will now follow in the next couple of weeks, although opening up some ears of corn recently, it seemed obvious to me that the grains of corn were not very plump and so their tonnages are also likely to be low. All forms of farming are struggling due to this heatwave at the moment, crops are showing poor yields and livestock are also not finding a lot of joy in pastures full of bone dry, yellow and brittle grass.
I noted in the media the other day that the BTO, who annually tag cuckoos with tiny satellite devices, are advising us that already, several of the cuckoos that summered here, are transmitting the fact that they are already south of the Sahara on their way back to their wintering grounds in southern Africa. Swifts will soon be joining them before the main autumn migration rush begins in late August/September.
Well blow me down - within an hour of writing the above, rain started falling - not heavy torrential stuff but gentle, steady rain that if nothing else refreshed the plants and the gardens and took the humidity out of the air - and it lasted for five hours - the soil is hardly wetter but it looks better.