Dawn on the marshes

20150416-0003I did not jump out of bed with joy as my alarm clock rang at 5.30am. It is not the best time of the morning for me. I bumbled around the kitchen, knocking things over and shouting, “shut up,” at the alarm clock when it decided to ring all over again. But the moment I left the house I knew I was pleased I had made the effort.

It was pre-dawn, so few people see this time of the morning, less and less people I suspect, now that milkmen, early morning post, and paperboys are a thing of the past. I have signed up to one of the few jobs that require an early start, breeding bird surveys. All round the country at this time of year, other people are crawling out of bed, making flasks of coffee and dragging out clipboards filled with obscure maps of fields which they need to navigate their way through.

Possibly due to the early start the navigating proved a little tricky. Having received specific instructions from a helpful farmer I still took a wrong turn and drove my intrepid Nissan Micra down a sheep track onto the marshes. Just as I was struggling into my wellies, a vision appeared through the mist. A rather handsome, open shirted man on a tractor who turned to be the farmers son. Considering the hour and that I was clearly in the wrong place, he was very charming and directed me back out of his sheep fields and to the right spot. 20150416-0002

By the time I reached the first field, the sun was just rising above the trees and a thick mist lay across the meadow. Avocets took to the air, twenty beautiful, delicate birds with neatly held pointed toes, piping overhead. Lapwings could be seen, whooping and descending across the scrapes, plummeting earthwards calling their liquid fluting song. Redshank strutted between tussocks of grass, oystercatchers stared out across mirror calm pools in companionable silence.20150416-0005

 

 

I have been commissioned to conduct surveys on farmland across the North Kent Marshes all summer. I had been told that I wasn’t expected to find much. I had been warned that the early starts were painful, that the farmers might be wary, but I also knew that here was an incentive to get out to see beautiful sunrises in places I would never normally get permission to go. I have done many boring and difficult jobs in my time. I know when I am lucky.

By 8am my days work was over and I was back home cooking up a big batch of pancakes and looking forward to tomorrows early start.

Easter Moon over Elmley

moon rise and marsh harrier at Elmley

moon rise and marsh harrier at Elmley

The Easter moon rose above the marshes of Elmley.

Satsuma orange,

skimming the earth,

pockmarked with craters

It defied superlatives.

“Bloody Amazing,” I said, to no one.

Alone in my car with my thermos of soup.

No posh words to fall from my lips

but a need to say,

Something.

To witness

And pay homage to a thing so marvellous.

 

Carol stayed at Elmley Marshes National Nature Reserve courtesy of the Elmley Conservation Trust. If you would like to stay on the reserve visit http://www.elmleynaturereserve.co.uk/stay

 

rare phenomenon appears over Kent garden

Circumhorizontal arc

circumhorizontal arc

Laying in my garden on Thursday trying to soak up some rare spring warmth I spotted this rainbow directly overhead. Turns out it is no rainbow but a circumhorizontal arc, an optical phenomenon, sometimes known as an ice halo ,formed by the refraction of the sun through ice crystals.

According to Wikipedia it is a rare occurrence in Northern Europe as it depends on ice crystals appearing in the right part of the sky and the sun being very high. The fascinating, but sometimes incorrect, Wikipedia tells me that it is only possible to see this in England between mid May and late July. So what was it doing above my garden on the 2nd April? A late April Fool played by the heavens maybe.sun dog rainbow sun dog rainbow too