Since my last posting the intense heat, sunshine, humidity and drought was endured right up until last Friday night when we had a storm and the first proper rain for two months. Saturday saw hot and sunny weather with strong winds that quickly nullified the effects of the rain.
However, yesterday and so far this morning we have been in the throws of constant two days of heavy grey skies, regular bouts of heavy rain and drizzle and a strongish warm wind. After several weeks of mostly enjoying a Mediterranean summer, it's as though literally overnight we have suddenly morphed straight into an English autumn. The desert scenario that last week was my garden, has plants now dripping with water and though not soaked, the soil is at least moist down to a couple of inches, and will benefit my plants for a few days, far more than me and my hose would of done.
Walking round the reserve this morning under heavy skies, drizzle and a really warm wind, it was like walking in a sauna and my clothes were damp from sweat, (not that you probably want to know that.)
To continue the autumnal feel, large numbers of Swifts and mostly juvenile Swallows, were passing through the sky in a south-westerly direction, not rushing but still starting their migration south. And the autumn wader movement has begun as well. This always begins in late July/early August and so the name Autumn movement is a tad wrong but it's always been that way. Common Sandpipers and the odd Green Sandpiper are now stopping off along the marsh ditches and fleets as they re-fuel on their way south, there's a lot of hot and sunny summer yet to come but clearly these birds, having done their breeding in northern climes, see no point in hanging around anymore.
In an attempt to beat the rain, huge acreages of corn were harvested both day and night last week but some fields of corn and spring barley had to be left and will have to be left now until a few days of hot sunshine dry them out again. The most noticeable after-effect of the harvest now is the strong and not exactly nice smell that is drifting across Sheppey on the warm and damp winds. For many years now, the local arable farmers have taken in, and are presumably paid to do so, the by-products of sewage farms. Throughout the spring and summer months large heaps of this black, compost like product, are created in the corners of fields. With the surface quickly drying out there is very little smell, until now as the heaps are being dug into and tractors spread it across the stubble fields. The smell is quite awful and with several holiday camps down wind a few miles away, complaints are constant every year but it is the countryside after all and farmers have always manured their fields.