(Click on images to enlarge)
5th August 2011: The marsh flora is in the process of shutting-down for the winter, and it’s showing all the signs of running rapidly out of steam. It’s as if the high-energy demands made on the marsh by the vegetation during the growing season, have sucked nearly all the water from the soil. The once wet and spongy ground is now dry, hard and dusty. The millions of different shapes and sizes of seeds are sitting tightly packed on their seed heads at the top of erect and brittle stems, waiting for the best time to allow the wind to play its part. These seed heads and pods have replaced the colourful blooms of a weeks or two ago: the most obvious and striking of these being hogweed. When the conditions are right a strong wind will carry some of these seeds across the marsh to a fertile place, and a new generation of plants might grow.
Watching the seasons change is both exciting and rewarding.
Whilst many of the marsh blooms have died leaving dried-out, brown seed pods and brittle stalks, a few hangers-on are still adding a bit of colour to the landscape; these won’t last long: a few days, maybe. There are plenty of berries and apples on the marsh, though. The blackberries, in particular, are ripe enough to eat, and they taste lovely – they are a real favourite of mine.
On my way home this evening, I came across a pigeon sitting motionless in a patch of comparatively short grass. It remained immobile until I reached down to touch it, and then it flew away. I have come across this pigeon behaviour on several occasions, and I don’t know whether they are ill, having a rest, or if this is a survival strategy. If the latter is the case, then they would soon be a fox’s dinner. Maybe, this is how the fox catches the pigeons; perhaps foxes existence on the marsh depends on a steady supply of stupid pigeons being available. I have seen rabbits exhibiting similar behaviour: they wait until the last-minute before fleeing. Pheasants hide in the undergrowth and trust in luck, too. I have watched foxes take advantage of this behaviour. They grab the immobile pheasant and kill it: foxes are experts at killing – it’s their nature. Foxes seem to kill more pigeons on the marsh than anything else, but I guess there are more than a few rabbits on their menu, too.
Reeds and pond weed have almost taken over the North Pond, and the water level continues to fall. I stood on the east bank this evening listening to a loud clicking sound coming from the reeds on the west side. I wasn’t able to decide what was responsible for making the single click at ten to fifteen-second intervals.
Last weekend I had spotted otter tracks on a small mud beach along the River Stour. I immediately set up a camera trap there. The camera trap had monitored the small mud beach for five days, so I was hopeful of a few otter photographs today. However, in spite of the camera indicating fifteen new images, a broken tree branch had found its way in front of the lens and all the images were useless. That’s another big disappointment, then!