This month will see the return of the Swift to Rye and I am glad that at last, someone other than I, is aware that the lack of birds has as much to do with nesting sites as it does with food. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a point in mind. In the 50s and 60s the gravel pits were being exploited to cope with the demand for aggregates. Unsuitable areas were left as islands and used as dumping grounds for large stones and silt. These islands were naked of vegetation and the birds loved them as breeding places with good visibility to any approaching enemy. As kids we plundered the island of gulls eggs for the London market, so keeping the gull population in check. We left all the terns eggs as they were too fragile and small. Each spring we paid a visit to the islands and burnt all the old grass so keeping the land bare of any vegetation. Modern buildings today do not have holes, nooks or crannies like old buildings. Any old house is today renovated and has to comply with building regulations that do not allow for draughts, so no room for House Martins, Swifts and Swallows.
To me March is the yellow month at time of year the daffodils and first of the primroses show their colour. If March is the yellow month then April is the white month with all the trees displaying their blossom. May and all the colours of the rainbow burst into bloom, the wild and exotic garden plants try to compete with their neighbours. June signals the close for all the flowers growing wild and July sees them all going to seed. August is a marvellous month for colour and as everything ripens, the hues change to the autumn colours. As Autumn turns to Winter the sportsmen shoot the pheasant a bird that everyone knows and associates with the English countryside. First mention of this bird in England was in 1058 by the Monks of Waltham Abbey so he was probably introduced to this country by the Normans. It was not till the 1800, that the bird became common throughout all England. The great country houses owned by prosperous land lords then introduced the ring necked breed to add more colour to the final bag. Although an introduced bird to this land, it was not the one I left you wondering what the species was that tired in water and has a nasty habit of snapping your finger off. That creature in the Terrapin that resembles a leather jacketed tortoise. Kept as pets in aquariums 20 years ago when the kids of the household had a craze for the film and comic strips of the Ninger Turtle. It soon outgrew the tank in the house and the kids grew up. Left with the pet many owners released them into the wild. They thrived causing mayhem to the native wild life.
“Rye’s Own” May 2008
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