Saturday, 21 January 2017
Shingle Street - What No Owls?
There are times when you learn as much about wildlife by failing to see something (and sadly the crab above will never again see out of these vacant eye sockets) as by spotting a bird or animal successfully at a given place.
We have been on a Short-Eared Owl quest for some weeks, having enjoyed wonderful photos taken by others of this bird we have yet to see for the first time. Once again it eluded us this afternoon.
But the desire to look made us go out in the cold to see what was about. We noticed a few Cormorants in formation and a Little Egret in a brackish stream. There were gulls and corvids.
We scanned the sea at Shingle Street for seals, but there were no seal heads bobbing about today. However, there are always unexpected treasures on a beach... such as the mermaid's purse, the oyster shell and whelk in the pictures below.
Shingle Street is an evocative place, out on 'the edge'. It was particularly eerie this afternoon with the fading light, the empty shore and above all the tolling of the bell. But this was not Dunwich where some are sure that they have heard the bells from the succession of churches claimed by the tide. This bell off Shingle Street resides in the buoy in the next photo, warning all within earshot of the perilous Orfordness sandbanks. It brought to mind words from a poem I encountered at school many years ago, 'The Inchcape Rock', by Robert Southey. Here is the verse that rang in my ear:
The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.
You can read more about the Inchcape Rock and the lighthouse here. The poignant fact, from my point of view, is that while Inchcape is many miles from here, off the east coast of Scotland, the distinctive red and white lighthouse at Orfordness, recently abandoned to its watery fate, can still be seen from Shingle Street.
We waited for the sun to set, then turned for home, passing a couple of deer on the way.
The photo above shows the shoreline and the one below, the flat meadow and marsh on the landward side of the Shingle Street lane.