Saturday 24 December 2022

After the drought - eventually.

 So, my last posting left us with the return of the wildfowlers, all set for another six month season shooting wildfowl alongside the reserve and a severe drought still in place.

With regards to the wildfowlers, who as I have mentioned before, only shoot over the saltings on the seaward side of the seawall, not on the main reserve - due to the reserve's dry ditches there were virtually no ducks flying around and so they had to contend themselves with just shooting at the resident feral Greylag Geese. But after a few weeks at being shot at even these geese learnt to avoid flying over that particular section of saltings and so visits from the wildfowlers also dwindled. The daily walks around the reserve during September were not the most inspiring due to it's lack of wildlife, even summer visitor birds such as Reed and Sedge Warblers and Yellow Wagtails had left earlier in August to make their way south, but there had been one addition. 

On a small farm field alongside the reserve a guy from the traveler community kept six quite nice horses. They were separated from the reserve by a wide ditch that acted as a wet fence but that ditch, like all the others, had gradually dried out and eventually the horses realised that there was now a way of joining the cattle grazing the reserve. One morning when I arrived, there were those six horses, looking quite chuffed with themselves, standing tall among the cattle. I rang their owner, who said that he would come and try and catch them up but with no realistic way of keeping them in their proper field, I suggested that he might like to leave them on the reserve in the short term. They are still there now, now feeding among sheep instead of cattle, doing no harm and thoroughly enjoying the reserve's wide open spaces.

As we progressed through October rain showers slowly became more frequent but made no impact on the drought, the dampness simply dried off the next day, but last month, November, at last saw a quite rapid reduction in the drought, almost overnight. Rainfall amounts became heavier and were more regular, it quickly greened up the grazing marsh as the grass began to grow again but at first only put an inch or so in the dry ditches. But then after one heavy spell of rain a dramatic event took place. The farmland alongside the reserve slopes down towards it and arriving there one morning it was clear that the farmland was draining it's rainfall into the reserve's boundary ditch by our entry gate. Over the next few days that ditch quickly re-filled to a depth of 3-4 feet, an amazing turn around, and the water in it flowed for about a quarter of a mile along it's length, also re-filling ancillary ditches that ran off of it. Further rain falls have continued that process and currently the reserve has now recovered to full normal winter water levels, indeed almost flooding, an amazing turn round in just a few weeks. 


  1. OMG two posts in 3 days. Will it last Derek! Happy Christmas!

  2. One things for sure Rachel, I'll never be able to compete with you on either quantity or quality. Happy Christmas and a great New Year x

  3. It's already 5 days "old" but still: Happy New Year!
    I love that about the horses. It is how a horse should live, largely free to roam and feed as it pleases.