Monday, 11 February 2013

Birding


It is the time of geese migration. Earlyish in the morning, hundreds, thousands of them sweep and honk across the farmland towards the bay. I always hear them first, always think 'what's that?' then look up, away, and spot their blurry bent line a mile or two across the fields. They don't stop here, which is maybe a good thing, but disappear into the opposite side of sky.

There are a number of ways people disturb the birds around here (and therefore me): sending dogs onto the sands, regardless of the waders out there, or maybe because of them; humans walking out towards them isn't much better, just slower; quad bikers hoon over the sands of Sunderland Point, which affects not just the birds but the integrity of the sands; every so often we have a couple of paramotorers hanging about overhead, low, slow and noisy noisy; yet things are far worse at Spurn Point, where they're struggling with the pros and cons of windfarms built across migration routes, and the news has gone quiet on what caused the vaseline coated guillemots and puffins on the south coast.

Birds do stop here, braving the human invasion, polluted mussel beds and warm water from Heysham power station. Plovers (happy to be corrected, they're always a distance away) fly low over the water's edge, usually in bright white contrast to the surrounding grey sea, and flash in that fish-like way of turning to vanish, the entire flock, out of sunlight, then cut back again into view, in the same clustered form. Mesmering. As are the lapwings that will suddenly fling themselves upwards, like ash catching on the wind, in some telepathic agreement. The herons, only poke about at low tide it seems, so are always too far away to awe at. Unless I accidentally send one up from a dyke at a field edge, its pterydactyl wings sending me back to some ancestral time of my deep imagination.

I'm not a birder or twitcher (although they come here in numbers, last time for a dowitcher), just easily gobsmacked, snared by beauty and happy to crank back my neck and gawp.  

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