Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day Traditions

Boxing Day, that day of various traditions and today has been one of blue skies and sunshine and a cold wind, just right for getting out and about. Below is the view across The Swale NNR as I arrived at first light and it would be another three quarters of an hour before the sun finally appeared.

But what of traditions, well as anybody who has long history in the countryside will know that it's traditionally a morning when people will get out hunting, shooting, birdwatching and simply walking here and there discovering the countryside. The fox hunts will be out chasing foxes in the time-honoured way while denying that they do and the wildfowlers will be out after geese and ducks to add to their fridges overflowing with Christmas meat. For me, armed with just binoculars and camera, it always means a dawn start at the reserve to see how many wildfowlers have turned up and to have a chat with those that have. Below are part of a flock of around 115 White-fronted Geese, a variety of wild goose that traditionally visit the Island each winter and are much sought after by the wildfowlers. Fortunately so far, the geese are going no where near the wildfowlers and are sticking mostly to the reserve and the surrounding farmland.

This morning the increasing light eventually revealed three wildfowlers out on the saltings and when they packed up and stopped for a nice chat they revealed that none of them had had a single shot. Pretty much how it's been for much of the winter so far. with little water and few birds but despite that they enjoy watching each dawn rise and the solitude that goes with it. I have experienced thirty odd such Boxing Day mornings out there and the days of twenty-odd wildfowlers being there at dawn are now well gone as dry and mild winters have pushed their quarry birds elsewhere, it's unlikely to improve. 
Of course not everybody has such countryside habits and pursuits, some are happy to queue in the traffic jams of cars trying to get in or out of the car parks of large stores, or freeze half to death in pavement queues, desperately seeking their own personal bargain. And lastly, the streets and roads are very busy with the multi-coloured bodies of joggers and cyclists, all neurotically pounding away and determined to lose that extra couple of calories that they were forced to eat as Christmas Day dinner. Next comes New Years Eve, fireworks, drinking and holding hands on the stroke of midnight with people you don't really like but what the hell. 


  1. Christmas Day evening went to cinema to see 'Cezanne et Moi'. Today, Boxing Day did 11 kms relaxed run in local park. Falujah Singh says the secret of long life is "avoid stress".

  2. Can't deny that Gwil but bloody hard to go through life without getting stressed out at times, something the thought of jogging does to me. Yet until I turned 60 I had been into various fitness regimes for years.

    1. Derek, I think that sensible exercise (emphasis on 'sensible') reduces stress. Walking which you recommend below is very beneficial. I have some walking or swimming days when I feel jaded or have an ache or pain. I like to run 3 times a week.

  3. Christmas Day was a glorious sunny day here, but rain is going to arrive later today, continuing into tomorrow. And so, I'd better stretch my lazy bones pretty soon if I am to get out for a good long walk...without an umbrella.

    As ever, it was a pleasure to see this post and learn more about Sheppey.

    Best wishes.

  4. Go for the walk and feel better afterwards Frances, so nice to hear from you.

  5. Went out onto Epsom Downs with my eldest daughter - more walkers than birds, more dogs than walkers - but the cobwebs were blown off! Enjoy the rest of the day Derek.

  6. Another well written description of that wonderful marshland from your keyboard Derek, many thanks. From my chats with those wildfowlers I reckon you are spot on about the enjoyment they too get out there, often without a single shot being let off.

  7. Your Christmas sounds wonderful to me Derek - out in the fresh air in that beautiful environment.
    Do agree about Birdsong being his best book. I often pick it up and read it again because I have nothing new to read.