Saturday 19 September 2020

One for The Weaver

 Walking the reserve each morning at the moment is the same as the morning before. It's dry, it's yellow, it's like walking round some foreign savanna.

The weather is stuck in a rut that has lasted months - seems like a lifetime. I wake up, I get up I look out the window, the eastern sky is just dawning. Yes, it's gonna be another day like yesterday and the day before - dry, sunny, warm or hot, we've had almost five months of such days. Life is parched - the gardens, the horse paddocks, the grazing meadows, the soil in the arable fields. Everybody is waiting, waiting for the rain, for it to rain properly and not just shower and be gone. Proper soaking in rain, rain that keeps you indoors rain, rain that will need to last for several days and still not be enough.

On the reserve the visits have become boring, so few birds in the arid conditions - a wet land reserve needs wet areas to entice the wildlife and be interesting! The poor old cattle spend every day looking for real and fulfilling grazing and good fresh water but they find little of either. They have taken to eating the sedge along the ditch edges and the tall phragmites reeds from the sea wall fleet, neither is terribly palatable or nourishing but they are at least green. The wildfowlers still turn up, sit out on the saltings and go home a while later empty handed, no wildfowl to see or shoot at. 

Ducks, geese and waders look for wet areas in which to feed, wash and drink - none are available. Starlings and plovers look for soft ground to probe for fat insects that sustain them - none is available.

Just a Barn Owl quartering the meadows in the early morning half-light, fortunately little changes for them, except heavy snow and every morning the swallows flitting south across the meadows in fond farewells, decrease.

The arable fields on the neighbouring farmland have been harvested, the soil lightly turned over and broken down ready for seed sowing but sit dry and dusty. Some rape was sown a month ago, as it normally is for next year, we had a heavy shower of rain, it germinated but hot dry weather saw it shrivel up, an expensive loss that will have to repeated when the rain eventually comes.    

In my garden, the half of the front lawn that I turned into a wild flower meadow this year, was only a 50% success. I begun it last October by mowing the grass down as low as I could and then raking and scarifying the surface soil into a rough tilth. Unfortunately the wild seed mix that I spread over it also contained meadow grass seed and so the combination of the lawn grass re-growing and the wild grss, tended to swamp the wild flowers. This week I have worked hard at preparing the meadow's surface and reducing the grass ready for a new sowing of wild meadow flowers. As soon as it rains the seed will be sown and my wild meadow will begin it's life ahead of next year.

And for The Weaver, well I'll always be in your footprints, you'll always be leading the way.