Saturday, 22 January 2011

Spring will get here one day

I took the photo below for another subject but its bleakness seemed to fit this morning's visit and so, well, there it is.

While its rare, there are occasionally those days when you visit your patch when you wish you hadn't bothered. Early this morning was one of those times - grey skies, a cold N.wind and regular showers of icy rain - basically it was bloody uninspiring. Dawn did happen but the light never progressed past that, the morning seemed to stay in a kind of half light and I just couldn't get warm.
As I started to trudge across the marsh I knew inwardly that I should have stayed at home - got the papers, had some breakfast, stayed warm and give it a miss, but it was Saturday and old habits die hard, I always go at dawn on Saturdays. So silly really because being retired, every day is the same as another, weekends and Bank Holidays aren't special anymore like they were when I was still at work, but one stupidly still rotates to that same cycle.

Anyway, trudge I did, across the flat and muddy marshes towards the seawall. Although I couldn't actually see them, I could hear the short whistles of Teal to both the left and right of me in the ditches, and they were answered close by by the longer "wee-oos" of Wigeon. Mallard called from further round and from the east came a small flock of Whitefronts, which circled the reserve low down, calling all the time with their beautiful and wild "winkling" calls, until eventually dropping in alongside some of the resident Greylags.

And so, up onto the seawall and the Spotted Redshank. This bird has been present in the same tidal pool alongside the seawall there since before Christmas and is not only almost guaranteed, but is almost tame. Quite strange actually and these days, a very uncommon bird.

After that, the wildfowlers, and how many would there be this morning on the saltings , well 7.5 to be exact! 7.5 you might exclaim! how is that, did somebody fortunately part expire. No, as they packed up, fortunately duckless, and began to make their way home, it was obvious that one was only around 6-7 yrs old and being led along by his dad, clothed in his mini-camourflaged suit. A tad too cold and long for somebody of that age to be out there in my opinion but hey, apart from the odd unfortunate duck being killed, what a wealth of natural sights and sounds that young lad must be storing away for the whole of his life ahead. The shooting bit is not ideal I know but there is so much worse that that lad could be learning and I couldn't really say that it was that bad.

One last comment on the wildfowling front, some people have asked me why it is that the duck shooting season above the tidal High Water Mark, ends at the end of January and yet below that Mark it is OK to shoot and kill wildfowl until the 20th February. Well I asked a very experience wildfowling aquaintance of mine and he suggested that the ruling was brought in in order to protect wildfowl that were often pairing up by the end of January. Very commendable says I, but then immediately think, well how do these birds know not to fly over the seawall after Feb 1st? - they don't of course and some still get shot, so its not that a good idea.

Anyway, I didn't hang about out there this morning, I don't have deadlines to meet and so I came home and left it to another, warmer and more enjoyable day.

"My love she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence
She doesn't have to say she's faithful
Yet she's true like ice, like fire.
People carry roses
Make promises by the hours
My love she laughs like the flowers
Valentines can't buy her."...................Bob Dylan


  1. What an excellent post Derek! A beautifully descriptive account of your visit to the reserve.

    As I know you are not averse to a little argument, I do take issue with the comment 'The shooting bit is not ideal I know but there is so much worse that that lad could be learning'. I don't think there IS much worse than being taught that it is acceptable to kill defenceless creatures! I do of course take the point that the child is learning about Nature in general which has to be good.

    I laughed out loud at the comment 'you might exclaim! how is that, did somebody fortunately part expire', that thought did indeed occur to me :)

    Great to read the Bob Dylan!

  2. Jan,

    I guessed that might seem an odd statement for me to make, or indeed both the statements actually, because I wouldn't wish anybody to actually lose their life out there. As for the little lad's education, well I stick by what I said and there's no guarantee that he will grow up to become a wildfowler but what he could very easily learn is nature in all its good and bad bits and appreciate much of it.

  3. As for the young lad, Derek, unfortunately by now, he probably will have ingrained into his mind that wildlife is expendable. Kids do follow their father's example, for better or for worse.

  4. Graham, we're all making assumptions of some kind. I grew up as a young lad, killing things with an air rifle or catapult or ferret but I like to think that I turned out to have a fairly rounded view of things.
    I'm not saying that I've suddenly begun supporting wildfowling as an educational tool but the spin offs from it can give an enhanced view of wildlife and there are far worse examples of shooting than the one that he was experiencing - the governing factor, is what he is being taught.

  5. Derek, you are so right that you have grown to appreciate wildlife from a different perspective to that of the wildfowler.
    I just find it hard to accept that, in this day and age, when the pressures on wildlife are so great and so many species are in decline, that there are still those that see the killing of a wild creature as a justifiable sport.
    We decry the hunters in Europe that shoot anything that flies whilst still allowing slaughter on a smaller scale in this country.

  6. Hi Derek, I love the atmosphere you create in your post, it reminds me of many winter visits to Sheppey. As for the little boy, we can but hope.

  7. Thanks Alan, glad that you appreciate what I try to achieve and glad that your blog has now taken off.