Saturday, 9 October 2010

Misty and Murky

The small farmland thicket that we drive through to get onto the reserve. The short track leads to the barn and the Five-bar gate. As you can see the photo wasn't taken this morning.

It was thoroughly murky and dull on the reserve at first light this morning and never improved all the time that I was there. The light and visibility remained constantly poor despite a freshening SE wind, which was surprisingly humid and no doubt adding to the conditions.
By the time that it had got fully light, if you can call it that, Midge and I had made our way through the cattle, across the reserve and up on to the seawall. A scan round with the binoculars though found virtually no birds moving at all, just a few hundred Starlings and a couple of Herons. There was a lot of duck "quacking" going on but that amusingly, was coming from one of three local wildfowlers sitting just in front of me on the saltings. Apparently they buy these alleged duck imitator things and sit out there blowing through them for all they're worth in the hope of attracting a duck or two, they also have a Greylag Goose version as well. Bit like the toys that we used to get in Jamboree Bags as kids - which pretty much says it all in respect of the wildfowlers.
Anyway, there was bugger all for them to shoot, or for me to see, so after carrying on along the seawall for a while I cut back across the reserve and continued on then across the neighbouring RSPB fields. The newly sown grass seed has really taken off on these fields now and they look impressively green and grassy and should look really good by next Spring. In two hawthorn bushes at the northern end of these fields I flushed out several Song Thrushes, counting sixteen in all and obviously there has been an inward movement of these birds this week.
These fields connect with the footpath/part concrete road that runs from the rear of Muswell Manor across to the Harty Road and so I walked that back as far as the farmland thicket. My meanderings had taken about an hour and a half up to that point and yet still I hadn't seen any wildfowl at all, although I could hear some Greylags along Capel Fleet somewhere. A couple of Marsh Harriers lazily quartered across the newly sprouted winter corn fields in which a solitary Heron stood like a miniature scarecrow in the gloom, and I saw little else until I started to walk through the thicket. Here all manner of birds started to appear in the sycamores, willows and ash trees in there. Wood pigeons and Stock Doves exploded in all directions, a couple of Blackbirds scolded me and yet another ten Song Thrushes appeared in ones and twos. Best of all though was the instant sounds of some birds in there that I haven't seen for a couple of years, Goldcrests. After the total absence of these little treats last winter, it was great to see them back again now and hopefully with the winds due to be from an easterly direction for a few days, hopefully we will see a lot more come across the North Sea. A visit to Warden Point looks on the cards. I stood there for some time trying to identify how many that there were but could only positively count four birds before I moved on, plus a Chiffchaff.
Just to complete this good little spell, as I walked back to the car down the track above, a Cettis Warbler called from an overgrown ditch alongside it.

We have the first of the winter's monthly harrier roost counts tomorrow evening on Harty so that will give me an opportunity to see what and who is about at the other end of the day. This is followed on Monday afternoon by a WEBS count with extremely high tides that will cover all of the saltings, so a couple of interesting days to come.


  1. The weather forecasters billed today as a mini summer, from as far back as wed. Useless twats!!

    God luck with that harrier count Derek :-)

  2. My wife loves to go to Harty Ferry, either side, to birdwatch. I accompany her for the exercise and to take photos.

  3. John,
    If you don't already, try parking at the church and walking down to the seawall alongside the reserve, really good views, especially of seals on Horse Sands in the middle of the Swale at low tide.
    The pub also does really good Sunday roasts.