Sunday, 26 August 2012


This feels like the rotting corpse of summer. It’s warm but not hot, not dry enough either and as we peer at September, it’s hard to see it performing a Lazarus like recovery.

And grey is all around us. Grey skies, grey shifting seas. Grey ex-military buildings, grey concrete paths over the grey-green common over which dull grey Woodpigeons argue with the wind and gravity and the inevitable. Grey backed gulls fling their selves into the breeze and along the shingle beach; a shiny grey fish leaps out of the North Sea and flops lazily back in. Grey, not white, is the face of the House Sparrow sat in a bramble patch. Six Turnstone scud over, dark grey in this light, whilst two Dunlin flew more purposefully southbound offshore.

Landguard is the shingle tail to the Felixstowe peninsula, a faded, greying seaside town, notable only for the docks that stole jobs from Liverpool. I’ve no idea if it kept them, but away from the arcades and candy floss streets the cranes dominate the skyline. They’re the tallest things this side of the Orwell bridge. I was rather hoping something else might dominate the skyline: something looking a little less reptilian, but with a closer biological relation to the herpetofauna.

It wasn’t to be. It never is. Not in these winds anyway. At Landguard, or I suppose, the east coast in general, you want to be buffeted by an icy easterly sweeping up big flocks of small, brown and Siberian birds. You don’t want to have the common-to-omnipresent Linnet flocks being blown about your head by a stiff wind from the rest of Suffolk. There’s only so many Linnets one can take before you lose the will to bird. Or dog walkers with dogs off leads. That’s the reason why on this nature reserve, only one Ringed Plover chick has survived out of eight. It won’t for much longer, I imagine.

From the point you can see the clouds breaking over Essex and the wheat fields of the Naze glowing gold against the grey of Harwich. Eventually the sun even comes out on the north of the river too, heralding two Yellow Wagtails flying and calling over. A welcome (and far too late) first sighting of them this year for me. All of a sudden a small flurry of bird movement happened: a few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers in the bushes, and a Whinchat briefly scurrying between bushes. But as soon as it happens it passes again. And we’re left with a Whitethroat, and not its grey relative.

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