Yesterday gave us the first real blast of winter at Elmley. No snow, unlike other parts of the country, but leaden skies and a biting northerly wind were a taster for what's to come over the next week or so. Despite the cold, the livestock are still doing a good job maintaining the sward out on the reserve. Some of the cows have been taken off and there are likely to be more going in the next week, but the old Sussex cows can tough it out through all but the harshest weather. The sheep too can withstand some pretty testing conditions, but we may have to put some supplementary licks out if the cold weather goes on for any length of time. A repaired starter motor was put back on our old 6" diesel pump, numb fingers fumbling with the nuts & spanners. But we're still waiting for Windmill Creek to go up another 4cm before we can turn the pumps on. I'd prefer rain, but even a fall of snow would help push water levels up a bit.
Out on the Swale, a single female common scoter and a flock of seven red-breasted mergansers amongst the larger flocks of wigeon, shelduck & teal. The small flock of brent geese were in fields west of Wellmarsh, but there was no sign of the pale-bellied bird. A small wader roost at Wellmarsh, with 250 dunlin, 27 grey plover & 17 knot huddled against the wind and the best of the raptors were a ring-tail hen harrier and 2 buzzards. But I was pleased to get back indoors!