Monday 30 July 2018

Surely not Autumn and what's that smell

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.


  1. I'll take the sweaty, humid, sauna-like conditions over cold conditions of any type (wet or dry) any day. So glad you got some rain. We having been seeing the first influx of spotted sandpipers, always the earliest of the migrating birds, for nearly a month now. No swallows so far.

  2. Yes, I think if I was pushed, I'd agree with you Wilma, sweaty is best.

  3. We've had torrential rain during a thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon, it was still very warm so it felt very much like I imagine the monsoon (not that I've ever been to India).
    Yesterday, we were back to hot and sunny, and I guess the rain wasn't nowhere near enough to really make a difference to the fields and woods. Still, better than nothing!
    I am actually looking forward to autumn this year, but that is mainly due to my holiday coming up in September.

  4. I didn't know that was allowed Derek - luckily they don't seem to do it round here - a field backs on to my house so that would really be the last straw.

  5. Been going on for years Pat, at one time they had to spray some sort of nice smelly stuff while spreading it but that has ceased and so for a few weeks locals put up with the pong.

  6. Well observed as usual. There are no public conveniences in the middle of arable lands so it is understandable that farmers will occasionally need to drop their kegs in order to manure their fields.

  7. Will need a lot of farmers to create those sewerage piles and they certainly can't claim that there shit don't stink.

    1. Perhaps volunteer nature reserve helpers could assist farmers with their fertilisation.

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