Thursday 23 July 2020

Harvest Time

Well it's been around seven weeks since my last post and I have been minded to scrap the blog all together. I have said this before but have carried on but it does get hard with every month to think of things worthy of filling a blog with.
The weather certainly hasn't changed at all. Apart from the odd showery day, with the resultant brief rain drying within an hour or so, we remain in a continuous drought situation. It is getting a tad tedious walking round the reserve now in such continually dry conditions, the ground is rock hard, the grass dry and brittle and the muddy fringes to the ditches getting wider as the water in the middle decreases almost daily. With the breeding season pretty much over and the moult now replacing it, bird life has become pretty quiet and numbers are lower. Along what is left of one fleet we do have a daily early morning roost of c.24 Little Egret and 1 Great White Egret, all looking quite magnificent as they rise up into the air together. The muddy ditch fringes will also act as stopping off places to grab a quick snack by passing individual wading birds as they make their way south. Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers, Greenshank are slowly being seen.
And of course, the southerly rush of Swallows and Sand Martins is starting, at the moment mostly by juvenile birds, all of that way with no adults leading the way! I came across one gate on the reserve yesterday morning with dozens of those birds crowded on to it and also on the ground around it, all twittering away. I wondered if they might be discussing the route and it's best feeding stops, but how could they know, they've never done it before.
The only real noticeable birds at the moment are the Greylag Geese and there are around 140 on the reserve, made up of adult birds and near full grown goslings. Once they finish their moult they will soon cross over on to the farmland and spend a lot of their time picking up spilled grain in the stubble fields. Hard to believe that in just five weeks on the 1st September, the wildfowling season will begin again and those geese will become targets once again. On drought days like we are currently experiencing it's hard to imagine those wildfowlers sitting out there with their guns ready, bitter cold and dark mornings yes, but not hot, dry and sunny.
On the surrounding farmland the rape was cut, baled and stacked away some weeks ago and the activity now is all concentrated on harvesting the wheat and barley and taking the straw bales away for stacking elsewhere.