September, another year nearly gone; I always notice the years by the first of this month as duck shooting starts today, that is followed next month by the pheasants yet it seems only yesterday that the little ducklings were catching gnats on the surface of the water while mother duck fussed around trying to keep them together. Before a Rye Harbour nature reserve was formed the owner of the great lakes organised an early morning duck shoot and the first was heard in the noise of the dozen guns blasting the lightening sky. I was one of those that would see no sense on killing so many young, fit, able to fly birds. A couple mature birds for an evening meal was more to my way of thinking. One thing I did not have to rise from my bed before dawn. A brace of duck at this time of year when the heat of the Summer was still with us and all the blue bottles were looking for one carrion to lay their nasty eggs on I found to be ample for dinner. Later in November when a gale of wind was blowing, the shooting of duck was a much better test for the gun.
Harvest over, stubble cultivated, and already the corn for next year is appearing in neat lines over the fields that carried the early rape Swallows and Martins were at last moving, often assembling on telephone wires since early last month; this year I have more swallows nesting in my sheds than at any time before. My pair of martins were beat to their old nest this year by a couple of house sparrows who seem to be making a come back by the flocks people are reporting. The old wood pigeon has at last muscled in the bird world and not this time for being the pest that he is but by becoming the most numerous bird in the British landscape. I remember when a greenfinch had that title, now sadly, he is vanishing along with many other species. It must be over forty years when I last saw a Corn Crake or Night Jar and it was forty years ago that the first photograph of Collared Dove was taken in England perched on my pen of pheasants and ducks opposite the house, now look at the population explosion, every garden has a pair.
All around us last month they had a deluge of rain. Rye as usual stayed dry, Brookland had a monsoon as we melted in the blazing sun, the same day Tenterden experienced a flood. Bexhill and Hastings had torrential rain and further inland the heavens opened up more often. Still Rye was dry. Will it never rain for two solid days? .I was amazed to find the old Sweet Peas of last year climbing up the netting in March. There has been no need to plant new. The winter of 2004/2005 did not produce a frost strong enough to kill the roots.
“Rye’s Own” September 2005
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