Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Thin Black Line

There’s a place we sit to have lunch down by the salt marsh. It overlooks a small creek running out to the estuary and we’re often the only people there. Tides go in and out quickly here and there is almost always exposed mud on both sides of the creek. We park the car on a downward facing boat-slip overlooking the water and stay put. Brightly coloured fishing boats lean sideways, bottomed out in the shallow water and a warm glow from the west creates a tranquil mood. We’re only 20 or so yards from the water and the wildlife will tolerates us provided we stay put in the comfort of the car.

There are always Black-headed Gulls here; they come close, especially when there’s the slightest suggestion of opening the car windows. Redshanks, Curlews and the odd Lapwing search for morsels in the mud and Little Egrets wade elegantly in the stream, sometimes darting to catch a fish. Left and right the ducks are more timid; Teal, Mallard and far-off Widgeon never come close.

On the far bank, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls, some preening others sleeping, shine brilliantly in the sunlight. A few Common Gulls arrive, but don’t stay for long. Far out, Shelducks are just visible feeding in the deep sward of spartina grass that covers the salt marsh. On the distant estuary proper, thousands of Oystercatchers are spread out, feeding on the vast cockle beds, but from here paint just a thin black line on the horizon.

There are small birds here too; Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Starlings always and, sometimes like today, small groups of Linnets.

There are wild ponies living on these salt marshes; they too come close, but only when the weather turns against them.

1 comment:

  1. This is a most evocative piece. I envy your knowledge of birds, and living somewhere near water. The Midlands, well N Oxfordshire is rather landlocked. I shall folow your blog with interest.