Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 9, 2012

Two for the price of one

Barely an outward sign of even a gradual descent towards autumn, with the warm summer sun bathing the Essex countryside.  ‘Descent’ often feels like slightly the wrong word, inferring as it might, a decline, a disintegration, a thing to dreaded.  Autumn though, is vital in its own ways, and has its beauty and it is necessary.  To say much more would be to rob me of a theme for posts at a more appropriate time, so back to heat of the September sunshine.

At the Essex Wildlife Trust’s Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, this heat was felt and relished by the plethora of small life that embody a remarkable journey from a 1960s gravel extracted wasteland to a thronging, diverse and beautiful corner of country.  The place feels as ancient as the estuary that sweeps past the reserve to let into the waters of the North Sea.

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa). Ross Gardner 2012

September is a time perhaps, when the seasons mingle – seamlessly and with subtlety.  Dragonflies enliven the sun-swaddled silence of the pondside and scrub.  Migrant Hawker and Ruddy Darter still maintaining territories and eager for mates; still time for eggs to be laid.  Elsewhere a bronzed green Emerald Damselfly shimmers as it rests.  And away from the dragonfly pools and across the acres of saltmarsh a hundred Avocet race along the estuary banks, already confiding in the company with which they will spend the months ahead.  A resplendent Buddleja bush, with its second flush of flowers, stands adorned with butterflies by the dozen; Red Admiral aplenty, Small Tortoiseshell crowding together around the same handful blooms, a single Painted Lady catching the eye – the whole thing a vision of summer.  All the while, through the thorny scrub on a brackish lagoon set beside the estuary, a group of slender wading birds have gathered to wait out the high tide.  Mostly Greenshank and a few Spotted Redshank, about 40 birds in all.  They are far-northern breeders heading south and one small contingent of the autumn migration – a wonderfully unpredictable time for the naturalist with an eye for birds

The seasons merge and we can cherish the two for the price one.

A flock of Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and a few Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus). Ross Gardner 2012

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