Friday, 19 March 2021

Nearly There

 My last two blogs have made mention of  hints of Spring and yet this long cold, very wet and windy winter has continued to win the day.

But, it may only be the one day but Spring has been around again today. Cloudless blue skies and unbroken sunshine have dominated the day and an almost warm, gentleness has taken over the garden. Bumblebees have been visiting the helleborus, daffodil and heather flowers to feed up. A Robin sang for much of the day from a naked Elderflower bush and the pond sparkled in the sunshine.

The newts have returned from winter hibernation and looked thinner as a result and so I spent an hour digging up earthworms to feed them with. I'd drop the worm segments in front of each of the newts and watched events. Surprisingly, despite having eyes, the newts seemed very short-sighted and it would take several attempts to pounce on the worm but then mass shaking would take place, just like a dog does with a rat. Amazing how many newts that there are in the pond and I so love to see and watch them.

As I said at the beginning, this winter has been loathe to relinquish it's hold on the countryside this year but today has been a pleasant taste of  what's soon to come. Out on the reserve the marsh still has large areas of surface water across the grazing meadows and what isn't covered, is water-logged. Lapwings have begun their happy courtship displays and nesting on any dry parts of the marsh can't be far away. Likewise, the Marsh Harriers high above the reed beds, are courting, high in the sky and their plaintive calls cascade down as they tumble up and down in their "dancing" displays. Skylarks are the avian chorus line, endlessly singing in the background and a constant reminder of how the countryside used to sound for so many people - we are lucky to still have them here.

But it's not all move over winter, Spring is here, the last few weeks have been very cold and grey with icy winds. It's been difficult at times just lately, to find the enthusiasm to plod round the reserve each day. The saving grace has been the winter wildfowl numbers, many still reluctant to spread their wings and fly north, heading home to breed. The reserve this winter has seen wildfowl numbers not seen for many years, the result of the flooding and the cold. Chief among these have been the White-fronted Geese, spreading out across much of Kent but concentrated mostly here on the reserve  to peak at 850 last month but still this week, totaling 590, and a joyous sight to seen and hear. Lately they seem to be spending all day on the reserve's grassland bur roosting somewhere well west of the reserve. This means that each morning around 08.30 they suddenly appear, high in the sky in their V formations and calling with their beautiful "winkling" notes to suddenly break formation and tumble down onto the reserve. There they feed, they wash and pairs split away to court and renew their bond-ships - life can suddenly seem a wonderful place!


  1. You will be sorry to see the geese go Derek - the sight of them sounds wonderful.

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  3. Oh the signs of spring are everywhere, it seems, but like your newts, winter hangs on and gives us a good shaking.

  4. Your description of Sheppey was so beautiful that for a few minutes I was transported there. Yes, life can suddenly become a wonderful.Thank you. Island Girl,USA

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    2. Thank you so much Sea Lover, I'm glad that you enjoyed your brief visit to the Isle of Sheppey. If you wonder where we are, you will find that we are a small island alongside the North Kent coast, in the Thames Estuary.

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  6. It seems that every year spring arrives at a stutter-step. Just when we think it has finally settled in to stay, we get a hint of foul weather again, and here in southern Ontario back to a dusting of snow. But it will sail along in its own way as it always does, and like you, we have scores of migrant bird species returning to let us know that it is really here. Tomorrow we are supposed to hit fifteen degrees!