6am in hazy heat. Herring Gulls guard the Strand Gate as the first speeding commuters race towards its blind bend. Song Thrushes & Blackcaps in the trees, shrill Swifts dash round the church. I can’t understand why they don’t attract a regular audience since the few other local Swift colonies are in bigger towns where it’s harder to keep track of them without wandering into the path of traffic. In Winchelsea though, the graveyard provides comfortable benches and shady trees as well as longer-term accommodation.

This nice view from The Strand comes courtesy of a high-speed motorist who failed, a month ago, to take the right=angle bend and cleared a gap through the hedge. This came shortly after another car had left Rye Harbour Road at a velocity sufficient to punch a Desperate Dan style hole in the brick wall opposite.

A week or so later, another optimistic driver failed to take the riverine curves of Sea Road and ploughed into Sutton’s fish shop, demolishing one corner which remains propped up to this day though still doing business in a Blitz-style “More Open Than Usual” spirit. And then, during that brief, intense rain-storm, another vehicle doing the customary 70mph into a thirty limit at Pett Level aquaplaned into a car parked at the road side, destroying it. For some time now there has been no control of speeding on rural roads. In a cynical’ money-saving move, this life-saving function was handed over to “Big Society” groups of local Speedwatch activists who were duped into unpaid monitoring of local traffic yet were legally toothless – a fact soon realised by motorists and rather more slowly by the volunteers, who now concede it was a waste of time, benefitting only politicians who could claim that something was being done when it wasn’t.

Back to the nice stuff: poppies which have escaped the herbicide spray.

But who wants to know about that? We want the countryside to be lovely, “timeless”, “untouched” etc (incredibly, a recent Facebook comment described the Combe Valley as “untouched”, demonstrating with shocking clarity the naive way in which the landscape is perceived).

Birds then. Relaxing birds. Cetti’s Warblers again; out of five sites recorded in recent months, birds calling from just tow. Kingfisher! In the same place as last month yet the habitat just there includes only The Wrong Kind of Bank so the nest site may be on the Brede – just a minute for a hurtling sapphire (as long as it doesn’t cross paths with a hurtling car en route). Skylarks! not only out towards Winchelsea Beach but, for the first time I can hear those singing on Rye Marsh from streets at the very heart of the Antient Towne.  Herons! Fluffy-headed young still in nests when really by now they should have left home and got a job rather than hanging out with the Egrets. Reed Warblers! All along the Canal – if only Napoleon had foreseen the environmental benefits he would bring to our area…

Litter courtesy of a weekend home.

Little Owl! Pinpointed among the Little-Owl-coloured branches of the same old twisty-limbed Oak thanks to a cursing Song Thrush.


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