Saturday, 29 October 2011

Rough-legs in the gloom

I hadn't planned on going to the reserve yesterday, it was a pleasant morning's weather and a Friday and I had decided to stay at home and catch up with some work in the garden. However at 11.30 the reserve's other Vol. Warden, Rod Smith, rang to say that he was out there watching now two Rough-legged Buzzards.
I decided to have a bit of early lunch and then pop out there, it seemed a nice day for it.

I arrived at the reserve barn just after mid-day to find that what had been a nice drop of weather in Minster was dull and murky out there but I immediately had a ring-tail Hen Harrier come gliding past me, which was a great start! I began walking across the middle of the reserve towards the Tower Hide, mainly to avoid the mud on the main track. The grazier had just been there and had pushed all the cattle herd across the reserve, via the track, in order to take the cattle temorarily off the reserve to split the calves away from their mothers to be weaned elsewhere. So their massed hooves had churned the softened surface up somewhat and it was plastered in mud and other smelly stuff, best avoided. You could hear the cattle, who by now were penned up just off the reserve, all round the place as they were split up and calves and mothers called anxiously for each other, to no avail.
Anyway, almost straight away as I walked through the grazing marsh I saw a hovering Rough-leg Buzzard near the Tower Hide and then swinging round, saw another over by the saltings in front of the Seawall Hide, that's how days on the reserve should be! Behind me on the main marsh, a flock of Golden Plover was building up, inspired no doubt by the fact that after a few rainy spells this week, the surface looked muddier and softer than it actually was and therefore might produce food. By the time I eventually left the reserve there were around 600 Goldies there.

A couple of Kestrels hovered over the rougher areas of grass and a Marsh Harrier made its way along a reed bed and stirred up some Reed Buntings, it was starting to look quite good. I made my way over to the sea wall and sat there for the rest of the visit with another regular bird watcher to Harty and we watched the reserve and the saltings from there. A few more Marsh Harriers drifted in and out of the reserve, all females today for some reason, and then a Short-eared Owl began quartering the marsh in front of us, followed soon after by a second that sat on top of the sea wall further along. The Rough-legged Buzzards seemed to have disappeared but it didn't matter because, despite the light becoming increasingly gloomy and damp, with a hint of drizzle, the saltings and the fast rising tide had plenty to offer. Yesterday was the culmination of the four weekly cycle through the year whereby the tides increase in height before dropping away again, yesterday was a high one at 6.2 metres and should of covered the saltings completely, and it did, with great effect.
Its an amazing sight, it first starts to flood over the saltings out on their far edge, quite quickly fills and overflows the various rill-ways before quickly sweeping across the saltings in a silent flood to reach the base of the sea wall. Coupled with the still and gloomy visibility it had a Dickesian atmosphere about it all, like you get from marshes at certain times of the year and time of day. And with it came the birds that normally sit on the tide further out, large numbers of Brent Geese and Mallard, drifted in, Curlews, Redshanks, Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits, flooded out of their normal saltings roosts, all flew up and wheeled around and the noise of birds was fantastic.
Gradually, as you can see below, the saltings began to disappear.

Rob, the other birdwatcher and I, sat there and watched it all, we had birds behind us and birds in front of us. There was always a Marsh Harrier or two on the reserve somewhere everytime we looked, a third S.E. Owl appeared and quartered out into the marsh and small numbers of Skylarks and Reed Buntings got up again. In the distance the cows still mournfully called for their calves and it was a day when all the sky seemed to be full of birds at once, it was great.
By now, as you can see, the saltings were pretty much totally covered and as the white marker post that the wildfowlers must shoot behind indicates, there wouldn't be any of those out that afternoon, even chest waders wouldn't cope with that.
Rob and I finally went our seperate ways and he E-Mailed me later to say that as he made his way back along the sea wall to Shellness Hamlet, he saw a further 5 S.E.Owls, either new or including the three we'd already seen, its hard to know. I suspect that they'd been flooded up off of the saltings where they roost and hunt.

As I made my back along the sea wall in the other direction, I came across a strange sight. After I'd taken the photo above, I watched two Herons further away who had alighted on a piece of salting that wasn't fully submerged. They were regularly stabbing at the vegetation and as I got closer it became apparent what was occurring. Several voles that had obviously got caught out by the tide had sought brief respite on the vegetation, only to become a meal table for the Herons, who were eating them.
It was a good visit and the best counts were:- 2 Rough-legged Buzzards, 2 ring-tailed Hen Harriers, 6 Marsh Harriers, 5 possibly 8 Short-eared Owls, 600 Golden Plovers, 2 Kestrels and a Barn Owl.
And this morning as I crossed the reserve again, I had the first Lapland Bunting of the winter. After several barren months the reserve has come alive again - fantastic!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Singing In The Rain

I was fortunate to be on the reserve at lunch time today and experience a rare event - an hour's torrential rain, even more fortunate was the fact that I just got to the Seawall Hide as it started. I even recorded the sight of rain hitting the surface of the Delph Fleet.

And the reduced visibility as it poured down across the grazing marsh. All the cattle did was to turn their rear ends to the wind and rain and carry on grazing!

Pictures of rain seems silly I know, but after near eight months without any, it was an event of some magnitude - could we be at the turning point of the drought? Despite adding to overnight rain, this morning's still hasn't made the slightest difference to the miniscule ditch levels but it has definitely softened up the surface of the grazing marsh and we should now see the re-greening of the marsh at least.
And after sheltering in the hide for an hour I eventually came out to sunshine again and the resultant rainbow below. Perhaps I should of stayed in the hide a little longer, might of been blesses with good luck!

One of the few benefits of this year's drought has been the exposure all round the reserve of Water Vole entry/exit holes. Whilst we see evidence of a few of the voles' feeding stations as we walk round, the platform of the mink trap is one, we rarely actually see the voles themselves. It is therefore encouraging to see so many holes dotted around the reserve's ditches, although there's no guarantee that many of them are actually occupied.

This young willow bush was also feeling exposed, the water level is normally above its root system but today that was a very different case.

Before the rain begun I had been walking round in windy but sunny conditions and was fortunate to get some good, if distant, views of the Rough-legged Buzzard that has been around for over a week now, on the grazing marsh alongside the Shellness track. Its a terrific looking bird and seems to alternate between sitting on the ground and hovering over the fields like an enlarged Kestrel. Certainly from the Shellness track many people are getting good views of this uncommon winter visitor and hopefully it will be around for most of the winter.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bob Gomes

I gained great pleasure yesterday (Friday) from attending a small gathering of people at a retirement presentation to Bob Gomes the ex-RSPB Warden at Elmley and lately of Dungeness.
I first met Bob just after he had arrived at Elmley in the late 1980's to replace Les Street and like most people have, I immediately found him a really likeable guy, extremely knowledgeable and always willing to share that knowledge. I had just become a Vol. Warden at The Swale NNR then and my vists to Elmley became very few after that and as a result never met Bob that many times after. The most recent prior to his retirement was funnily enough, at a Kate Rusby concert, where I bumped into him and Liz, we obviously share similar musical tastes.

The one memorable time that we did come together was on The Swale NNR in June 1988. On one of my morning patrols around the reserve on a warm and sticky day I suddenly spied what at first I thought was a strange Lapwing on the ground. Watching it through the binoculars it immediately became apparent that it was definitely not a Lapwing but a bird of similar size but brownish and with a very swallow/tern like flying action as it hawked for insects. I had never seen a Pratincole before but it looked very much like one that I'd seen in bird books and so rushed home to look it up and yes, it was a Pratincole. Going back the next day, I found two of them hawking for insects together, this was getting silly! Every day for the next week they were always in the same area, reasonably tame and hawking for insects and with the reserve manager on holiday I decided it would be best to get verification of what I'd seen. I was after all, a new Vol. Warden and of limited experience and repute on the Kentish bird watching scene - who was going to believe just me.
So I rang Bob at Elmley and asked him to come down and verify what I was watching every day. We arrived at the reserve on a pleasant and warm, almost Mediteranean June evening. I took him to where I hoped the two Pratincoles would still be after over a week, and yes, after crawling up an earth bund, there they still were. Bob was able to identify the two as a Black-winged Pratincole and a Collared Pratincole -how about that for a double, and we had a pint in the Ferry House Inn afterwards to celebrate.
The next day the Black-winged Pratincole had gone but the Collared amazingly, remained until September, a daily feature of my patrols and unknown to the regular passing bird watchers. One day in September it was gone but, almost certainly it, turned up at Elmley RSPB reserve the next day and was identified by a birdwatcher with knowledge of the species, as an Oriental Collared Pratincole - we had registered both the 2nd British and 1st Kent record of that species.

Bob was a great RSPB warden and of a type that the RSPB can sorely do with out, he will be missed as he spends his time on his allotment.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Harrier Counts

The dawn vist to the reserve yesterday morning found it even frostier and mistier than Saturday morning and as a consequence, after two hours both were only just lifting as the sun climbed the sky. So little was seen or heard but I was back again late afternoon yesterday for the first of this winter's Harrier Roost Counts. There are four of us on Sheppey taking part - one at Elmley Hill watching a roost over at Ridham, one covering Capel Fleet west of the Harty Road, one covering Capel Fleet east to Muswell Manor and myself on the Swale NNR. It's a valuable exercise in identifying both what sites are being used by the birds and if they're being disturbed and how many birds there are.

I arrived at the reserve at 17.00 and it was still warm and sunny and without a breath of wind as I made my way across the marsh to the Sea wall. With some time left before the light would begin to fade, I spent half an hour chatting on the seawall with two wildfowlers, the first I'd seen for some time. As we stood looking at a bone-dry and pretty much wildfowl free reserve, they commented on how diablolical the season had been so far due to the drought and how they had very little hope of getting anything that evening, and so it later turned out. We had a chat about all things countryside for a while and then they moved off, and further along the seawall made their way out to the seaward edge of the saltings and pretty much disappeared from sight, as they do.

I walked along to the seawall hide and took up my position on its verandah while Midge amused herself trying unsuccessfully to catch voles under the recently mowed hay along the seawall. Accompanied by the various sounds of the marsh that you get, Curlew and Oystercatcher cries out on the mudflats, a Wren working its way through the reed bed and scolding me, a Water Rail squealing from the same reed bed, I turned and watched a beautiful red sun set below the horizon behind Harty church in the distance. Immediately that you lose the sun a pronounced sense of hush comes across the marsh as dusk starts to settle, and bird calls become more pronounced.

Whilst looking west I picked out a harrier coming along the saltings towards me and putting the scope on it, saw that it was a ring-tailed Hen Harrier - really great, I wasn't expecting one on this first month's count. It travelled the length of the saltings in front of me until reaching those close to Shellness Hamlet and then dropped into the saltings to roost, a traditional roosting spot for these birds for some years. Immediately I lost sight of it I became aware of three Short-eared Owls hunting over the same stretch of saltings and watched them for a while, they are such lovely birds to watch with their lazy, flapping wing actions.
By now the light was just starting to fade and looking west again, I picked up yet another harrier following the same path as the Hen Harrier, this time it was a female Marsh Harrier. It carried on along the saltings until more or less where the Hen Harrier was roosting and to my surprise drew up another female Marsh Harrier from the saltings that I'd obviously missed. These two birds then flew all the way back along the saltings in front of me again and I last saw them disappearing into the pink sky and dusk over Harty Church, clearly they favoured Harty marshes for their roost site. Strange how the one seemed to go and fetch the other though as though it knew it was there.
With the light fading fast now and the mosquitoes biting more regularly, there was one last flurrybof harrier action. Directly in front of the hide and far out on the saltings, a male Marsh Harrier and a juvenile both suddenly appeared in off the mudflats, circled a couple of times and then dropped into the saltings to roost, its a great sight, it really is. Almost immediately after a female Marsh Harrier then shot across the marsh in the near dark and went into roost with the other two, a family group, who knows but I was really glad that it was one of those nights that the two wildfowlers hadn't had the opportunity to fire a shot and disturb the birds.

It was pretty much dark by then and there was nothing left but to make my way back across the marsh again, successfully avoiding scaring up a couple of Mallard that I'd seen drop into the Delph fleet nearby, for obvious reasons. I love walking back across the marsh in the pitch dark, obviously easy because I know my way after 25 years, but it has an almost romantic quality about it, apart from the stumbling over ant hills and standing in cow pats that you do!
It was a really great couple of hours and good to be doing something useful and for me, far more worthwhile than simply chasing rarities around the countryside. Back again this afternoon for the latest WEBS count.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

First Frost

I left home just as it was starting to get light this morning and thought it was a bit chilly but was really surprised on getting to the reserve to find that it was coated in a hard white frost with a rising mist. As a result I didn't see an awful lot as I wandered across the marsh, along the seawall and then back across the marsh. A couple of Marsh Harriers appeared out of the mist and around 50 Mallard passed by overhead. A Water Rail squealed from the Delph reed beds as I stood watching a small party of Bearded Tits working along the seed heads and they were joined soon after by another group of Reed Buntings. Making my way along one of the boundary hedgerows I had a total of 1 Blackbird, 1 Wren, 3 Chaffinch, and 3 Robin - not exactly the expected invasion of migrants predicted.
A fox walked out of one the reed beds quite close to me and I don't know who was the most surprised, the fox or Midge, but she pursued it for a short way before realising that her short legs were never going to catch it and so quickly gave up. One thing that did surprise me was catching sight of a medium-sized black bird at the top of a large hawthorn bush, pecking at the berries, when I looked at it through the binoculars it turned out to be a Moorhen!

This is the scene from the top of Capel Hill on the Harty Road as I drove out, with the mist just beginning to spread across the marshes.

This one was taken from the top of the sea wall looking across the reserve and showing how at field level it was difficult to see much around you, only upwards.

But its always atmospheric being out so early in such conditions and eventually at 07.15 a huge red sun came up above Seasalter and quickly began burning the mist away. This second view along the sea wall at 07.45 shows how quickly it had made a difference, although on the shady side to the right you can still see the white of the frost.

Getting to the end of the sea wall, this shot of the Delph fleet shows the extent to which it is drying out now. Quite a grim sight.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

What Rain

The euphoria surrounding the event of decent rainfall on the reserve Sunday morning was very short-lived. Today is the second day of strong and drying winds, which coupled with warm sunshine have sucked every last drop of moisture back off the reserve and we're back to how we were.

I walked across part of the reserve this morning, seeing very little and being pushed backwards at times by the strength of the wind and decided to complete a circular walk by continuing on round part of the neighbouring farmland. So I took the footpath track that we know as "the gravel road" and headed up it towards Harty church. At the top you can make out the white of the sign-post. (All the photos are best viewed by double clicking on each one and enlarging it)

At the top it's nice to turn round and take in the view across the farmland, the reserve, and out towards the buildings of Shellness Hamlet in the distance.

Here at the top of the track you have the choice of two directions.

I briefly turned left and you can see that alongside Harty Church the derelict old school-house has now been replaced by a newly built bungalow, in which the mother of the four farming brothers will live.

I then re-traced my steps and took the right-hand option, heading down the track with high hedges either side and past The old Forge cottage towards Elliots farmyard on the corner of the Harty Road. It was relatively wind-free going through there and I hoped that I might be able to both hear and see a few migrant thrushes or finches because the hedges were full of berries and the game cover alongside was full of seed. The result surprisingly, was pretty much bugger all, a few Blue Tits and a possible Goldcrest and that was it, has Sheppey been declared a bird-free zone?

Having gone through Elliots farm yard, where there was a sizeable flock of House Sparrows, I then turned right at the Harty Road and begun making my way down the footpath track known to us as "the concrete road". By following the track along the line of bushes winding its way left in the photo you not only get superb views across the Harty farmland but you also end up at Leysdown, its really worth walking. Me, I turned into the small thicket on the right and followed the track through it to get back onto the reserve. This thicket is where I normally see my first Goldcrest of the autumn but again that was not to be today but I did manage a Little Owl, which was calling within yards of me although I never did see it.

It was then just a matter of following the reserve track down to the barn and my car.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

We've had rain!

This is only a brief posting, to firstly apologise to the few people who have commented recently on my blog and secondly to celebrate the fact that we have finally had proper rain.
For some reason, I'm both unable to post comments on other people's blogs but also not even post relies on my own blog, I haven't a clue why.

Earlier this morning we had 3-4 hours of good and steady rain and so I was a tad later visiting the reserve today and then only for a short walk. The first thing that I saw on parking at the reserve barn was a large flock of c. 150 Golden Plover and 80 Lapwing further out in the middle of one of the grazing fields. The rain had obviously fooled them into thinking that they would find the soggy conditions that they need in order to probe the soil for invertebrates. Having found that this was not indeed the case, they departed shortly after for the tidal mudflats over the seawall. Mind you, if nothing else, the rainfall has soaked the roots of the grass and should hopefully see it stirred into re-growth and green-ness, something the cattle will enjoy.

The photo below is perhaps a tad childish but celebrates the first minor puddles that I have seen on the reserve track, probably since the early Spring!- almost a miracle.

Mind you, the only difference to the "S Bend Ditch" is the fact that the colour of the dry mud has darkened. This is how its looks for the whole of its several hundred yard length and it will need an awful lot of rain before it once again becomes the favourite site for wildfowl on the reserve.

That said, we do still have a few ditches on the reserve that retain some water, here is one of them!

Lastly, walking across one rain-soaked meadow, I came across this young Edible Frog hopping through the grass, no doubt happy at feeling wet again. He's only about a third of his adult size, double click on the photo and enlarge him.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Roosting at Shellness

With the wind gusting fron the WNW early this morning I thought I'd have a run down to Shellness Point and perhaps catch a Gannet going by. Because Midge and I don't favour seawatching as a birdwatching past-time, (too much standing around doing nothing), I rarely see them unless they come further into the Swale. An hour or so later, when I arrived at Shellness the wind had moved round to more of a westerly direction which pretty much reduced any chance of oceanic stuff, for at least the time that I was there anyway.
What was also noticeable was the weather, when I was down seven days ago to watch the filming of a scene from Great Expectations, it was swelteringly hot and sunny - today in near gale-force and chilly gusts of wind, I was sheltered behing the blockhouse in a coat - gawd, I know I shouldn't wish my life away, but roll on next March!
But if nothing else it was the height of the tide and so there was at least the daily roost out on the beach at the Point to look through. The photo below shows part of the Oystercatcher flock, which I eventually estimated at around 1,700 birds. (Double click on it and enlarge it and have a look through it)

Surprisingly, there weren't that many other waders, just 8 Turnstones and a Barwit. The rest of the roost was made up of 46 Lesser-Black-Backed Gulls, 20 Herring Gulls and 2 Sandwich Terns.
On the sea alongside the beach were 18 Brent Geese, all adults, and despite numerous scans out to sea, that was pretty much it. So, not being one born with much patience for hopping on the spot for long periods of time, I begun to make my way back along the beach. There I had a couple of Wheatears pass by, hunting insects in the vegetation and I was also surprised to see that some of the Vipers Bugloss was still in flower, nice to see a bit of summer hanging on.

Driving back along the Shellness track a female Sparrowhawk overtook me as it sped along the seawall and in and out of the chalets before eventually alighting on a fence post some way in front of me. I stopped the car and had a look at it through the binoculars and was surprised to see a Pied Wagtail sitting two posts further on. This resulted in a short staring match between the two, which I thought was quite brave of the wagtail given how fierce the eyes of the Sparrowhawk can look. Eventually the wagtail lost its nerve and flew off and to my surprise, after one quick pass at it the Sparrowhawk disappeared off in the opposite direction. Perhaps the wagtail had won the war of nerves after all, he's probably out there still, bragging too his mates.

On a different note and for those of you that use the Harty Road Raptor Viewing Mound regularly, a change has taken place close by, immediately to the north of the Mound a large area of the grazing marsh has now been ploughed up. Its a real shame to lose such valuable habitat but its all to do with economics. As I understand it the grazing marsh and its value to wildlife was subsidised by agreements set up with Natural England but with NE having its budgets cut they in turn have had to cut back on the amount of subsidies that they were able to offer each landowner this year. Put simply it means that the farmer there can make more money from growing arable crops next year on the unsubsidised acreage.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Summer is Gone!

Today finally saw the end of several days of hot and cloudless, blue-skyed, sunny days of above average temperatures. Days that saw fantastic and photogenic sun-rises and sunsets, the wearing of shorts and T shirts, long bike rides during the hot afternoons and later, unexpected BBQ's.
Yesterday Minster beach was still full with people sunbathing and swimming and simply enjoying being unfettered and outdoors - today under grey skies and a chilly breeze, there was just a few dog walkers in coats! What a difference just a day and the ending of a season can make, that must surely be it now - just six months to come of gales, rain, mud, frost, snow, and everything that makes stepping outdoors uncomfortable and hard to bear.

And yet, out there somewhere, are those few people that last week found it impossible to enjoy such a short-lived period of unexpected bliss because it made finding birds difficult - I can't understand their failure to relax for just one week anymore than they can probably understand my failure to put birds before everything else in life. Roll on the Spring!

"the warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
the bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
and the year
on the earth her deathbed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
is lying"..............Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mellow Dawns

The unseasonal hot, cloudless and sunny weather this week has been fantastic and none more than the sunrises and sunsets, they have been spectacular. Most mornings this week I have been on the reserve around dawn to enjoy that pre-dawn chill that rapidly changes to post-dawn heat. The photo below was the sun rising this morning over Seasalter and being reflected in The Swale. Surprisingly as well this morning, there was very little mist, just a few whisps along the ebbing Swale.

Withe the sunrise comes that warm glow and blanket silence that always seems especially noticeable in autumn. Double click on the photo below and enlarge it and enjoy the peaceful and mellow scene at Harty Ferry in The Swale at 07.30 this morning.
I began my walk on the reserve by walking along the top of the seawall, with The Swale to my left and the reed beds of the Delph fleet to my right. And having mentioned the blanket silence above, that was the case apart from the constant "barking" calls of around 400 Brent Geese feeding on the mudflats on the Seasalter side of The Swale, they appear to have come back in early good numbers this year. A few Bearded Tits and Reed Buntings called from the tops of the reed beds and one or two few Wrens busily made their way through the reed stems as they will now for the winter to come. A couple of Green Sandpipers and a Heron got up from the increasing muddy fringes of the Delph fleet and that was pretty much it bird-wise. Oh, all that is, except for a Green Woodpecker that got up in front of me as I turned onto the grazing for my return journey. Its odd to think of these birds as regular birds of the marsh here, rather than just woodlands, but the large numbers of ant-hills spread across the marsh provide them with an easy supply of both ants and their young, which they quite like.
Making my across the marsh I marvelled at what the herd of cattle are still finding to eat from the parched and yellow fields, but they still look in really good condition so must be doing OK. It'll only be a few weeks now till the calves are taken away from their mothers for weaning which is saddening for a few days as you hear the mothers calling for their young, but its all part of the farming year.

On the subject of the farming year, this is the scene across much of Harty at the moment, huge fields tilled and re-sown with winter corn and sitting there dust dry now as they wait for rain to germinate the seed.

Its not all bad though because around many of the fields are the regular cover strips of maize and various seeding crops, created especially for the game shooting interests and to provide food for numerous wild birds. Currently coming into seed is a type of millet that finches and buntings feed on all winter, as well as the Red-Legs of course. Enlarge the picture to get a better idea of what it looks like, its the whispy stuff right alongside the taller maize, with some sow-thistle seed heads amongst it. What great wild bird feeding areas for the winter.

To prove the point of how it benefits the smaller birds I took a selection home for my canaries, who eagerly pounced on it and fed from it.

One last comment on this current hot and seemingly mid-summer weather is how confusing it gets early evening when, instead of carrying on until 9-10 o'clock, the light suddenly goes and it starts getting dark at 6.30.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

What's Going On

The seawall in front of The Swale NNR is an important part of the reserve because of its ungrazed sides with long and thick vegetation. It always has something to offer wildlife be it breeding birds or moths , butterflies, lizards and small mammals.
At this time of the year it is particually important because it gives shelter to the countless over-wintering eggs and pupae of moths and butterflies, next year's generation in other words. The rarer Ground Lackey moth caterpillars normally favour this area to pupate as well.

It is also home to thousands of various spider types, as this photo taken in the mist this week shows.

Fantastic you might say, everything a nature reserve should be - fantastic that is, until a tractor mower from the Environment Agency turned up yesterday and reduced the vegetation to the state it is below. All that loss of insect life, and for what purpose? Does anybody have any idea why the EA finds it necessary to go out to a remote nature reserve and spend the public's money causing such environmental vandalism in the name of seawall management?