Sunday, 1 January 2012

Night Sounds

On crisp, still winter evenings like this I like to wrap up well and walk along the shore as the tide comes in. There’s little light from the stars, but the rising creamy moon begins to light up the gentle breakers shining against the darkness of the water. The streetlights across the bay and over the Channel on the Devon coast create orange necklaces along the distant shores. The noise from the main road just a little way away is muffled by the sand dunes and the yellow glow from the streetlights reminds me that I’m near the town.

I walk briskly in the cool air; the sound of crunching shells under foot seems deafening, but I’ve come to listen to the waders. As the sea creeps ever nearer, oystercatchers pipe up and begin flying in the darkness, I pick up the soft shrills of Dunlins, but have no idea where they are. I disturb a solitary Grey Plover, such a plaintive call and one I don’t hear often. Ringed Plovers are about too and as I near the river, Redshank alarms fill the night air. I rarely hear Curlews after dark; I know they’re here, but even during the day, they’re not very vocal in the bay. I’m not alone. Joggers pass by on the beach and even at this late hour, dog walkers need to exercise their charges. I spot two lights moving about on the mud and guess they’re fisherman illegally digging for lugworms in this protect site.

I turn my torch towards the sky and catch the flashing wings of Oystercatchers as they fly between the beach and the playing field on the other side of the main road. Although there’s little to see, the hive of activity, missed by most, is magical and easily compares with the daytime spectacle.

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