Even the return to the wearing of the hated wellie boots hasn't helped, the vegetation is so long and soaked now that it means that you still return home with an area of trousers above the wellies, soaked through. In other places the weight of the water has seen areas of the vegetation collapse and flatten to the ground which also doesn't help some wildlife.
This was emphasised yesterday morning as two broods of just a few days old pheasant chicks emerged from the soaking grass alongside a track looking like pretty cold and wet balls of fluff themselves. Unless they can get some respite from being continually wet and cold those conditions can quickly see the demise of many ground nesting birds eggs and chicks. Lets hope that we quickly see a return to the warm and sunny weather of recent weeks.
One day last week I had the privilege of standing beneath the nest of a Buzzard, high in the branches of a tall tree, near Eastchurch. From what I've been told there are several pairs of Buzzards now breeding on Sheppey, something that would of been inconceivable ten years ago. As I stood there beneath the nest, with a parent bird circling and "mewing" close by, I pondered on how much bird life on Sheppey had changed over the last thirty odd years. Thirty years ago Marsh Harriers were an uncommon summer visitor, normally only seen on passage in Spring and Autumn, nowadays they are not only a common and resident bird but breed in good numbers. Likewise Avocets. In the 1984 Kent Bird Report the highest numbers of Avocets recorded that year were 34 and 37 in November and December in North Kent. We now have breeding colonies of 30+ pairs on Sheppey alone, let alone wintering flocks of 2,000+ in the Medway. Little Egrets can be seen in even the smallest of ditches throughout Sheppey, are as common as Herons on the marshes and are now being joined irregularly by Great White Egrets and even Common Cranes.
It's changed an awful lot since I cycled out into Sheppey's countryside in the early 1960's as a teenager, hoping to see a rare bird called the Collared Dove.