Well, after several dry winters the tide has finally turned, or at least the weather has. It's been a fairly wet couple of months up till now and finally, over the last week or so, it has been noticeable that many of the ditches on the reserve are close to normal winter levels. We still haven't got large wet splashes of water across the grazing marsh, the type that attract the wading birds and wildfowl in large numbers, but I have a feeling that that is about to change.
As I write this we're just coming to the end of 14 hours of continuous unbroken rain, water is pouring down the roads and out of every drive and garden around here, it is bloody wet!
When it does eventually stop I'll go down to the reserve and see what a difference this last lengthy session has made but it'll be over the next week that changes will really start to show. The reserve is lower than the arable farmland alongside it and therefore all that rainfall on the farmland will gradually drain into our boundary ditches. They in turn will then over-top and spread out into the grazing marsh and quickly produce the conditions we have been missing for the last 4-5 years.
That all sounds perfect, my moans about dry winters will be at end, but it then creates a new moan, daily walking round in part flooded and very muddy conditions is bloody hard and tiring work, especially when you have arthritic joints as I do, but you won't see me stop.
Apart from that, wildfowl and wader numbers on the grazing marsh part of the reserve have continued to be low so far, except for the geese. They have remained fairly constant over the last few weeks. Yesterday, when our team carried out this month's Wetland Bird Survey (WEBS) on the reserve, part of my count produced 220 Greylag Geese, 41 White-fronted Geese and 1 Tundra Bean Goose on the reserve and 600 Brent Geese feeding on the winter corn alongside the reserve. There were also 5 Pink-footed Geese for a few weeks but they appear have transferred to nearby Harty marshes for the moment. Apart from the Greylag Geese, the other geese species are truly wild geese that winter in the UK from the far north of Europe. The Greylags are semi-feral, here all year round, breed throughout much of the South in large numbers and despite regular attention from the local wildfowlers and duck shooters, never seem to diminish in numbers.
Lastly, joy of joys, this Sunday sees the Shortest Day - nothing will change much in day lengths for another month, but it'll kind of feel like it is and that's good enough. So, hopefully my next blog posting will contain photos of a part flooded reserve and perhaps news of an increase in bird numbers.