Churlish I know, but despite the lovely weather, I wish it would rain! It's hard to maintain a wetland reserve in tip-top condition when there's a singular lack of the wet stuff. I'm still running pumps to top up the water that we've accumulated over the winter, but sunny skies & brisk winds mean it lasts about as long as an X-Factor winners' career! Our rainfall figures have more in common with North Africa than North Kent. The reserve is still looking good, but a good dollop of rain would make all the difference.
The continuing spring-like weather has prompted a little rush of spring migrants over the past few days. Wheatear and yellow wagtail are now a daily occurrence in varying numbers. At lunch-time today, chatting with members of the Elmley team in the garden, there was a sedge warbler and a blackcap singing in the orchard and a whitethroat in the garden. Another swallow also went north today. Yesterday evening a willow warbler sang in the orchard and there was a chiffchaff here on Tuesday. The immature spoonbill remains faithful to the Flood, as does a single spotted redshank. The high tides are pushing a few dunlin onto the reserve, but there's regularly over 100 turnstone. If you're familiar with the call of Med gull, you will quickly realise that they are all over the reserve at the moment. Still a few winter visitors present: a ring-tail hen harrier was present y/day, when a lucky few in Wellmarsh hide enjoyed fantastic views of a male peregrine cruising about over the Flood. A female merlin was seen to take an unfortunate redshank! A sparrowhawk today was probably a migrant and a couple of bearded tits in the reeds by the bench about half-way along the track to the hides today might be lingering winter visitors, although I'm hoping that they may be colonists.
Plenty of butterflies about at the moment too - mainly small tortoiseshell & peacock, but a growing number of whites (either small or green-veined) and the odd red admiral