Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Grey Days


After overnight drizzle it was a very murky early morning on the Swale NNR at Harty today with bushes dripping water and misty conditions making visibility limited, it was humid as well which added to the gloominess.

As I drove through the thicket and stopped to unlock the entry gate, it appears that a few thrushes had arrived overnight and I counted 6 Song Thrushes, 2 Blackbirds and a couple of Robins. Song Thrushes are a very uncommon bird on the reserve and it was a treat to see them.

Walking along the reserve side of the seawall fleet I came apon a Greylag Goose trailing a damaged wing and unable to fly. Yet another casualty of the wildfowlers' actions on the other side of the seawall and it was amazing to realise that's its only been four weeks since the season began, it seems like months. Anyway, that's another bird that will have to be dispatched as soon as I can get one of his assailants to bring a gundog along and catch it up.

The recent rain has done nothing for ditch levels, they remain basically empty, but it has made the ground softer and where the cattle have been, muddier. It has also brought about an explosion of Crane Fly numbers and walking across the marsh clouds of them now rise up everywhere, I assume that something eats them. It didn't appear to be a huge flock of swallows that was passing through though, they concentrated for a while on feeding along the seawall fleet and its reed beds.
I guess that in the next few days mushrooms will also begin to pepper the fields in large groups, succulent and pink, begging to be taken home and fried up for breakfast.

The one remaining puddle along the "S" bend ditch had a few Teal in it and very briefly, 4 Tufted Duck that dropped in and then moved on to find somewhere that covered more than their feet in water. 2 Snipe also got up from the puddle's edge and that was about it for the "S" bend ditch - in a couple of months time I will be recording ducks in their several hundreds along there, mark my words.

I decided to leave the reserve and went through the boundary gate and into the two RSPB fields currently being reverted to grazing marsh from arable. They are now starting to green up as the grass seed and some rape begins to germinate all over them. A flock of 20 Linnets were feeding in one of the fields, a Green Sandpiper came out of one of the ditches, which also had some Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits along its banks, and this new small addition to conservation is starting to take shape.

By the time that I had made my way back on to The Swale NNR the sun had begun to burn through the gloom and a Peregrine circled above the barn where I'd parked my car, the day was getting better and lawns at home needed cutting.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Wet and Windy

The Five-bar Gate - beyond is the grazing marsh, the seawall and the Swale.

After a quite benign morning today, by 15.00 it was blowing a near N. gale and drizzling and raining hard. For once the weather forecasters had got it right and presumably that select band of birdwatchers - the seawatchers - were getting both excited and frustrated. I imagine that there had to be someone out in that weather on an islolated beach or headland, getting soaked and looking at Starling sized birds way out over a rough sea and trying to identify them. Quite mad and boring in my world but I guess that ornitholgy has to be thankful that such people exist, me I prefer to be constantly on the move. Tomorrow (Sat) is forecast to be a repeat, wind-wise and less the rain, and so I guess that beaches and headlands will be well populated by people with telescopes.

The monthly WEBS count on The Swale NNR was carried out yesterday lunchtime and as expected produced some exceptionally low counts, especially in the wildfowl dept. My part takes in the grazing marsh part of the reserve and surrounding farm fields and I had a total of 12 Shelduck, 20 Mallard, 10 Teal and 430 Greylag Geese - awful! There were two other counters operating at both ends of the reserve and this was the total for wildfowl which illustrates just how much the parched conditions are having an effect.
Once again it shows up just how dry Sheppey, and the eastern half in particular, is at this moment in time. There will come a time this winter when flooding causes me to regret these words but until then its dry all the way.

Driving down to the reserve this morning, I could see from some way off, huge clouds of white dust blowing across some of the farmland. It was tractors spreading gypsum across the fields. The gypsum seems to be a by-product of the plasterboard factory at Ridham and I imagine as well as having a value as a soil improver, sees the farmers receiving payment for taking the stuff.

Today I pretty much ceded the fact that those people that constantly winge about it being too hot and sunny for birdwatching, or indeed enjoying such life, have now won the day and so I wrapped up my push bike until next Spring. Mind you, its only 13 weeks until New Year and that lovely downhill run to the Spring again - if only it would come much quicker. I have rain beating against my window, a gale blowing, its chilly - do people actually enjoy this weather, oh to turn into a Dormouse.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Harty Website

This morning was as good as it gets in autumn, very warm and sunny, coupled with a blanketing hush that made any sound travel long distances. In effect it was a morning made for retirement, lovely-jubbly.
As I travelled along the Harty Road it was also one of those morning where a combination of heavy dew and sunshine had highlighted every single cobweb in the fields and there were countless thousands all lit up like chandeliers.

After a relatively benign walk across the reserve with the dogs, seeing, or indeed hearing, very little, I decided to call into the Raptor Viewing Mound on my way home. I drove round the back of it so that I could park right against the phragmites beds there, in the hope of a Bearded Tit or two. Immediately I wound the window down and switched off the engine I could hear that one or two was an understatement, their "pinging" calls were all round me. They straight away started to appear at the tops of the phragmites stems, many no more than a few feet away from me as I sat there. I tried to count them but for a while they were so active and kept flying up into the air in small groups, circling round before coming back to the same place again. It was really magical and at one stage I wouldn't of been surprised to see them come and perch on the car.
As I watched them and tried to count them the "ticking" notes of Corn Buntings were heard and I looked up to see seven of those fly over the car. Although it probably wasn't accurate to the last bird, I finally settled on a count of 31 Bearded Tits and none further than 10 yds away from me - quite magical!

I'd only been home half an hour when Ian Davidson from Sheerness rang to say that he was at Warden Point birdwatching and had just seen two Firecrest in the regular spot opposite Warden Manor. Just ten minutes away as the Daihatsu flies and so I nipped up there, and in gloriously sunny and wooded surroundings tried my best to re-locate them. Ian joined me and we waited patiently for some time, listening to Robins, Blackbirds and Blue Tits, before I eventually heard a Firecrest. Hearing it was the easy bit, spotting it in large trees with thousands of leaves fluttering in the breeze, was another thing. Eventually though, when the bones in my neck were at breaking point from constantly looking upwards, we spotted one. A quick flash of eye brows and wing bars and it was gone again and that was how we briefly we saw it each time for the next ten minutes or so.

A cracking September morning and with a repeat forecast for tomorrow I can't wait and sod the work at home.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Drying Times

In previous blogs I have regularly referred to the "S" Bend Ditch on the reserve. It is a longish and winding, wide ditch come fleet that runs from the centre of one end of the reserve, to the seawall. It is the favourite site for most of the wildfowl that are attracted to the reserve and as it dries, of many waders too.
I have also been banging on about how dry the reserve is and the lack of birdlife, well the above photo shows just how dry the reserve currently is, because 90% of the "S" Bend Ditch is now as dry as the photo shows. There are just a couple of shallow areas of water further round from where this was taken. Normally it would be full of water to its full width and in wet winters will overflow onto the surrounding fields.

On BBC South East weather one night last week it was reported that Sheppey has been the driest site in SE England in recent years and don't we know it.

I had a walk along the ditch's length last week and duck numbers were very low, amounting to a few dozens of Mallard but we have a WEBS count to carry out on Thursday and this will give a clearer idea of how much the centre of the reserve is suffering from this current dry period.
If there is a bonus to be had from this it is the fact that wildfowling disturbance is very low due to the lack of birds and last year in identical conditions, it remained that way well into November.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Minster North

At this time of the year as the holiday season comes to an end and the area settles into a winter quietness, the stretch of Minster on Sheppey's north coast begins to come into its own birdwise. It is basically made up of four sections, the cliff-top path and the sloping banks that run down to the promenade - The Leas, and the Shingle Bank beaches and Bartons Point canal and lake.
The area is not known for any regular rarities, apart from a Blue Rock Thrush along the cliff top some years ago, but does have spectacular views, very bracing air and a good selection of many of the commoner birds, especially waders at high tide.

Several roads terminate just short of the cliff top and this leaves a wide walk eastwards along the fairly high cliffs with some dense shrub and bramble on the landward side - good for many finches and migrating warblers.
The slopes of the cliffs are of two types, the highest ones are still in their wild and continually eroding state but those adjacent to the concrete promenade were landscaped to a uniform gradient around twenty-odd years ago at the same time as the promenade was built. These landscaped slopes, are in an overgrown state made up of mainly grasses and lucerne, although Ox-eye Daisy and Valerian are now becoming established since I introduced them a few years ago. Also many blackberry bushes and small trees have begun to colonise these slopes as their seeds spread down from the gardens above. Common Whitethroats have become common here during the summer but during the winter birdlife can be surprisingly sparse, mainly Kestrels, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and passing Chats. Three years ago we did however have a Dartford Warbler that hung around for a few weeks, so with proximity to north and easterly winds from the sea, surprises are always possible.

During the summer both The Leas and Shingle Bank beaches are too well populated by bathers and windsurfers and the best you are likely to see are regular small numbers of Med. Gulls. But from September onwards high tide roosts of waders begin to become both daily and variable in species, already in the last week we have had 190 Ringed Plover and 30 Turnstone. Sanderling are also a species that have begun to use the beaches there in numbers up to 200+ at times and they make a spectacular sight as they briefly fly out to sea and back again. Med. Gulls also increase and passing Great-Crested Grebes can be seen out to sea. At low tide Brent Geese and Oystercatchers join up with the many other waders and feed out on the mudflats.
Lastly, the vegetation along the Shingle Bank is a good place to seek our Snow Buntings, I saw my first ever one there in 1959 and they still appear here in small flocks most years.

At the end of the Shingle Bank, where it becomes seawall and across the main road is the Bartons Point Park. This old army rifle range is now a collection of mown fields and banks bordered by a wide stretch of water known as The Canal. This Canal borders most of Sheerness and was originally dug many years ago as part of Sheerness and its garrison's landward defences. At Barons Point it passes alongside a recently dug Boating Lake, which attracts small numbers of birds that mainly roost on its banks. In recent times both the Canal and the Boating Lake have seen a sluice reinstated that allows regular top-ups from the sea, which unfortunately has pretty much rendered it as fresh-water and vegetation sterile and of minimal interest to most wildlife, except for some reason Little Grebes. In recent years these little birds have been using the waters there as a regular wintering site and 60-70 are regular peak counts, some small fish must be coming in with the seawater and proving attractive.
Another interesting feature of this regular seawater ingress is the startling sight quite a way inland of huge numbers of baby jellyfish and cockles in the water, a true inland nursery and I'd be surprised if there weren't also good numbers of flatfish as well. I've seen this before on Sheppey where seawater has got into some ditches or fleets.
Around the Boating Lake in winter there is normally around a dozen or so Wigeon and some Oystercatchers and Redshanks roosting.

In all, the coastline from Bartons Point to the top of Minster Cliffs stretches for about two miles or more, has some reasonable variation in habitat and has great potential for both good numbers of commoner birds and the rarer kind and is worth visiting on trips to Sheppey.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A Bushful of Delights

By going to the reserve early today I once again got the better of the weather, warm sunny skies and just a westerly breeze. By the time I left both the wind and the cloud cover had increased.

Walking round it was one of those benign but delightful autumn mornings where you are surrounded for most of the time by a constant stream of swallows and martins, all purposely making their way south, just briefly swirling round to snap up a few insects over the backs of the cattle that I was walking through.

I was also interested to watch three large parties of Greylag geese flying the length of the reserve to alight quite close to me, (they are unfortunately fairly tame). Although they have been shot at and killed daily in the area over the last few days, its interesting to see how quickly they are already learning the safest routes to take through the minefield that is Harty marshes this autumn. For the last couple of days, on leaving the fields at the eastern end of Capel Fleet, they have deliberately flown down the middle of the new RSPB fields there to get access to the reserve and then flown the length of the middle of the reserve to end up at its western end. This route mostly keeps them out of range of the shooting that takes place either side of them but they still have one lesson yet to learn. They do like to go out to the Swale mudflats regularly to collect grit for their gizzards from the mud. By hiding in the saltings that they have to cross, this is where the wildfowlers are picking them off, but even here the geese will eventually pick out a safer route.

At the western end of the reserve the boundary ditch between the reserve and the farmland is marked by a number of largish hawthorn bushes and I had an unusual count of birds in one of them today. In just the one bush I was able to count 1 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit and 2 Long-tailed Tits. Here, that's an unusual variety of birds not only to have in the one bush all together but also on the marsh.

Butterflies have virtually all disappeared now but there is one that seems to be having a mini-hatch at the moment - Small Heaths. I have started seeing very small numbers of them again in the longer grass of the grazing marsh.

Not much else to report out of the ordinary as the dryness of the autumn continues to severely restrict bird numbers here.

Travelling back along the Harty Road I was surprised to see a brood of week old Pheasant chicks at the side of the road, which will do well to survive, especially as whilst talking to Peter Oliver a bit further on, we watched a parent Weasel moving its young across the road one at a time by the scruff of the neck - a magical sight.
Whilst discussing this winter's monthly Harrier Roost counts programme, which starts next month, Peter also gave me a bit of interesting news. One of this year's wing-tagged Marsh Harrier youngsters was recently photographed coming ashore on the Isle of Wight, the furthest sighting so far, although I believe that one of last year's birds was found in Essex. Also, Marsh Harrier numbers on Harty seem to have dipped quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and it will be interesting to see if this reflected at the first roost count next month.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Painful Autumn Weather

My visits to the reserve this week have been few and brief due to a flare up of the athritis in my feet, due to the damper weather. Something to look forward to for the next six months now that those people that can't enjoy birdwatching in hot and sunny weather have got their way!
It was less painful this morning and so I ventured out early and also took my near 15year old Beagle Nana for one of her infrequent walks. She can't walk long distances now due to her age and also arthritis, and at times it was like a competition between the two of us to see who could walk the slowest and most painfully. Midge just left us behind and explored in the distance as she searched in vain for one of the few remaining rabbits.

The one thing that remains quickly obvious out there is how dry it still remains. I decided to put on the big pump for half an hour or so and pump a little water from the surrounding shallow ditch onto one of the scrapes in the field that we grandly in the winter call "The Flood". This is the field in front of the seawall hide, which floods up quite well in a wet winter but at the moment just looks like an ordinary grassy field, with its scrapes dry and covered in vegetation. By softening up the largest scrape the hope is that any substantial rain will spend less time soaking in to the ground and more time creating a body of water.
While that was happening I walked across to the "S bend ditch" and took advantage of no wildfowlers the other side of the seawall, to walk its length and see what was in there. This ditch, which in reality is normally a wide and shallow fleet, still remains 50% dry and despite some good areas of soft mud, was attracting few waders this morning. In all along its length I counted 30 Mallard, 60 Teal, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Snipe, 4 Heron, 30 Lapwing and 2 Ruff.
At the moment this is the only decent site on the inland part of the reserve so compare those counts with the substantial ones at Oare, where ironically they are complaining of too much water!

The two new RSPB fields that abutt the reserve have just been re-levelled, cultivated, rolled and grass seeded and whilst looking a tad bare at the moment, hold much promise for next year as the grass takes hold. The site will eventually add to the amount of conserved, wet grazing meadow in the area, especially when as hoped, further fields are added to the total.
Very close to these fields, on the farmland alongside the reserve boundary fence, are the two newly dug duck shooting ponds that I wrote about several weeks ago. These have been created, as the leaseholder freely admits, in order to take advantage of the wildfowl attracted to the reserve and potentially the RSPB site. I noticed that two small wooden butts have now been erected on the banks of one of the ponds and this will enable, with regular spreading of corn along the waters edge, shooters to hide from view and shoot at very close range the ducks as they come in to feed on the corn. Apparently, "countrymen" pay up to £80 each at dusk, to sit at such places and shoot large numbers of duck in such an unchallenging way. They presumably assume that's what nature reserves are there for.

I saw little else of note as I hobbled round, just the constant stream of small numbers of Swallows going south-westwards, 4 Kestrels, 3 Marsh Harriers, 4 Whinchats and a couple of Wheatears, 90 over-flying Blackwits and a few Mipits. I switched off the pump, which given the resultant poor ditch level, will be the last I can pump until we have substantial rain - and I mean four foot's worth, and headed back to the barn and home.
Tomorrow will see my usual weekend dawn start in order to keep an eye out for any wildfowler that feels the need to stray over the seawall and enhance his/her prospects. The Greylag geese flock is now starting to approach the 200 birds mark as they are being pushed towards the reserve by heavy shooting in the middle of the Harty marshes. Normally we end up with most of the 400-500 birds in the area on the reserve and they do tend to roost on the reserve, very close to the seawall. This in turn tempts the odd rogue wildfowler to creep over the seawall in the dark and shoot these birds from an illegal position.

It must be nice to birdwatch at a site where the only disturbance to moan about is the odd harmless dog walker.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sunny September Morning

Although the weather today never continued in the same vein, early this morning was superb. I arrived at the barn at 06.30, just as a bright red sun seemed to be springing out of the sea and into the blue of the sky. With no wind at all it quickly became quite warm and it was the perfect September morning and I'm always amazed that so few people seem to be out and about experiencing it.
The first bird to greet me as I let Midge out of the car was a Cettis Warbler, one of these has been calling along the reserve's boundary fence for at least three years now. But as well as the fact that I still have to see one, we rarely hear more than one and still have no confirmation of breeding, just the one mocking bird.

I then went through the five-bar-gate and onto the marsh proper, Midge and I nudging our way through the inquisitive cattle that were around the gate. They are always fascinated by the white of the dog running around and yet if you pick her up they lose all interest and do what cattle do best, shit and belch, both stink! The grazing can't be all that palatable at the moment, after a dry summer there's not much greenery amongst dead and yellow looking grass. We left them to it and headed for the seawall, birdlife limited to a few Skylarks and a single overhead Mallard.

Climbing up onto the top of the seawall, I scanned the saltings for any form of life - wildfowler life, but nobody, really unusual for the first weekend of the season. So, which way to go, east and cut back onto the marsh a bit further on, perhaps check the "S bend" ditch for waders, or west towards Harty church. A second sweep of the saltings showed huge numbers of assorted waders out on the Swale mudflats and movement down by the old barges at the western end of the seawall. Two wildfowlers out on the saltings there, so I'll go that way and have a look. Judging by Midge's interest in the vegetation as we went, they also had a dog(s)with them.

We set off along the seawall, saltings to the left, Delph reed beds to the right and the sun warm on my back. The reed beds were still quite productive, the odd scolding tick of a Reed or Sedge Warbler, the pinging of two Bearded Tits and a squeal from a Water Rail. Out on Horse Sands in the Swale were also a dozen or so Common Seals, laying there on their backs like grandads on a Sunday afternoon in their favourite chair after a Sunday roast, the only thing missing was the handkerchiefs over the eyes! By the time I'd got to the end of the seawall the two wildfowlers, and their dog!, had came ashore and were watching some Greylags alighting on the marsh from the corn stubble close by. They were two KWCA members that live on Sheppey and who I know from previous years and if there are any nice wildfowlers, these guys are them. They'd not fired a shot and were bemoaning the lack of birds, something I told them that I feel will become increasingly apparent over the next couple of years - too much shooting and no replacement of birds. On the other side of the Delph (the seawall fleet), we watched the Whitefronted goose with the broken wing moving about, a left over from their shooting last winter. I have watched this bird since the spring and it was particually distressing when the wild Whitefront flock were still on the reserve, to see it unable to stay with them and eventually get left behind.
I made a decision and asked one of the wildfowlers if he would cull the bird and he agreed, feeling that it was right, and so it happened, and after, an inspection of the bird found that it was very thin and I'm happy that we did the right thing.

I left them then to make their way back along the seawall and made my back across the marsh to the barn. I was accompanied all the way by Swallows in knee high drifts, going roughly south-west, amazingly a Great Tit "teachering" from a ditch-side hedgerow and arrived at the barn to yet another serenade from the Cettis.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Wayfarers All

"The Water Rat was restless, and he did not exactly know why. To all appearances the summer's pomp was still at fullest height, and although in the tilled acres green had given way to gold, though rowans were reddening, and the woods were dashed with a tawny fierceness, yet light and warmth and colour were still present in undiminished measure, clean of any chilly premonitions of the passing year. But the constant chorus of the orchards and hedges had shrunk to a casual evensong from a few yet un-wearied performers; the robin was beginning to assert himself once more; and there was a feeling in the air of change and departure."

So wrote Kenneth Graham in "The Wind of the Willows" in the chapter of the above name. Many of us right now must be feeling the very same feelings - some like the Rat and myself, desperate to hang on to the summer's warmth, others longing for the storms and cold of the winter. Whatever we long for we can feel it happening, feel the change coming.
As I walked across the marsh earlier this morning the sun was beaming down, rising each day now from an increasingly south-eastern place on the horizon, the mist had left and that autumnal stillness was everywhere. Despite what sounds there were out there, there was that blanket of stillness that seemed to draw you in and calm you. The last few Reed Warblers crept through the reed beds, Wheatears bobbed their white rumps on the track in front of you and Swallows skimmed the grass stems and the willows but you feel as you are now saying goodbye all the time. Before long the first gales will blow in the winter, ditches will fill and temperatures will drop but like the Rat I don't feel able to say goodbye just yet.

It was made worse this morning by visiting a house on the edge of farmland at Leysdown. Above the road outside the back door are electricity wires and all along these wires above me as I stood outside the house were assorted Swallows and House Martins. They ignored me and sat there, the Swallows twittering as they do and the Martins making their "pyg-amig" calls, all preening plumage and occasionally all doing a quick flight across the road and back, just to check that all was in perfect flying order for the trip ahead. I felt so jealous, how nice it must be to aimlessly spend a few weeks drifting down to Africa and to leave the cold and the wet behind. I stood underneath them and wandered what it was they were saying to each other and if they stayed together all the way south, roosting together at night in strange reed beds, the young following the old perhaps, and then suddenly they were gone and I felt sad, winter's coming and I don't like it.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Anticlimax

With the sky beginning to brighten to the east I left home at 05.15 this morning and headed off for the reserve. Although the sun was almost an hour from rising above the horizon it was already clear that it was pretty much cloudless. As I drove through Eastchurch it had become quite a bit lighter, although still needing headlights on, and looking across to the distant marshes it was also clear that I was going to have visibility problems. Across the marshes there was one of those ground-hugging mists that normally tend to get briefly thicker as the sun first rises.
Mist-wise, it was clear as a bell as I drove over Capel Hill on the Harty Road but I then had to descend into, and be swallowed up by the mist. It was one of those frustrating mists that are only about 20 feet high, so that you can see anything above you but nothing ahead. Wildfowlers love it like that because they can see the birds above as plain as hell but the birds can't see them.

There were three cars parked near Capel Corner so obviously the duck hunters were already in position along Capel Fleet, waiting for the expected geese and ducks just before sunrise. I carried on along the road in the mist and turned down to the reserve and through the entrance spinney, it was eerie through there in the misty conditions and odd pheasants ran ahead of the car, dark blobs on the track.

By the time that I parked at the barn and began to make my way across the marsh to the seawall, the mist was drifting in quite quickly but still maintaining its rigid low height, I could just see the top of the seawall in the distance but nothing below it. I got soaked making my way across the seawall fleet crossing which is overgrown with phragmites which were heavily wet with mist and dew, and climbed the steps to the seawall top. Here it got even more weird because it was like I was walking along on top of the mist and everything across the Swale was visible but I couldn't see who was on the saltings below. A shot rang out and I saw a duck veer off towards the Swale apparently unscathed and so I knew the expected first-morning wildfowlers were there but simply couldn't see them.
A Mallard and Teal then followed the seawall past me before unfortunately going out over the saltings, a shot rang out and down came the Mallard - two shots and one bird already.
Meanwhile the sky behind Shellness was starting to redden the mist in that direction and so I decided to walk along to Shellness car park while I waited for the mist to clear, I couldn't see much till then. It was an enjoyable walk and the closer to Shellness Hamlet that I got the quicker the mist dispersed until eventually the top of a magnificent red sun crept up into the sky. I looked round and the mist had left the saltings and was hurridly dispersing across the marsh, it was that lovely feeling that curtains had suddenly been pulled and I could see distance and birds again - and unfortunately distant wildfowlers heads peering out from the undergrowth of the saltings.
I made my back towards the seawall hide as one more shot rang out but failed to connect with a duck, and just to my horror, as a party of nine Greylag Geese began to fly along the seawall, towards both me and the wildfowlers. If it wasn't for the fact that it was intended to possibly kill some of the geese it would of been laughable. The two wildfowlers, yes there were amazingly only two, immediately began manically blowing these imitation goose calls things to try and lure the geese towards them. Well, I think I could fart a better imitation but anyway, honk they did and the geese, they headed off into the middle of the reserve, fortunately having none of it. Just three shots for the first morning but unfortunately one dead duck.

The sun was up then, it was broad daylight and mistless, the early morning wildfowl flight, what little there was of it, was over and I decided to leave those two sad guys to it and headed home myself, first getting a second soaking going back across the fleet again.

That was the lowest number of KWCA men that I've known attend on the first morning, its normally around twelve to twenty, so that was immensley cheering but I doubt that it'll remain that way once the winter ducks begin to build up. One can live in hope I suppose.