After this last week's glorious but brief taste of real summer it was a bit of a shock to the system and somewhat depressing,when I arrived at the reserve early this morning. We were back to heavy grey skies and a cool and gusty wind. Two days ago I walked round wearing a thin polo shirt but today I needed a jumper as well. As I walked round in the less than perfect conditions, you'll forgive me for cursing those people, who after just a few days of decent weather, complained about it being to hot - presumably they're much happier now and will look forward to the week ahead, which is forecast to be cool, cloudy and showery.
So, back to the reserve and what's happening. The breeding season for some birds is already drawing to a close and various juveniles are being seen on a regular basis now. This morning I had both Pied and Yellow Wagtail juveniles and for the latter it has been the reserve's largest number of breeding pairs for many years. The Greylag Geese have also done particularly well, fledging around 60 goslings, although unfortunately, many of these possibly have only a couple of months to live before the wildfowlers return on the 1st September. The Barn Owls are also doing well and although the five chicks have now reduced to four, they were all successfully rung this week.
On the down side, Coots have done badly with only a few broods and Lapwings are pretty much a write-off, producing very few chicks. The reserve has been predominately dry now for almost a year and that lack of wet/damp habitat has has not produced the conditions or insect life that the Lapwings need.
The Cuckoos fell silent earlier in the week and are no doubt already part of the way back to their winter quarters in Africa and Swifts won't be long before they join them. It's not unusual, both of these species only make a brief visit to this country to breed and then they're off again.
The hot and dry weather of the last week has also favoured butterflies with a surge in their visible numbers. Meadow Browns have been a joy to see flitting across the longer grass of the grazing meadows in big numbers and in the last few days have been joined by the first Small Skippers, I just hope that the down-turn in the weather doesn't depress this lovely sight.
Lastly, the yellow wild flower known as Lady's Bedstraw, so known apparently, because in the Middle Ages women used it to stuff mattresses and pillows with, has always been a common, annual sight on the reserve. Today I noticed, that a couple of meadows have huge spreads of it in flower, carpeting the grass in a quantity that I have never seen before. I of course, forgot to take my camera with me.