Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Walking in the rain - why?

This morning, I popped down to Sand Bay to have a pre-work walk. After torrential rain overnight the morning was that wonderful clean feeling one gets after heavy rain has almost scoured the air. It was glorious and fresh in other words, dark clouds scudding over but well broken with blue sky.

As I got out of the car, a flock of starlings in Hitchcockesque mode flew to and rested on a wire. Not menacing as such but I should have known. Walking over the path and onto the beach, in front of me was a developing rainbow. I stood for a few moments admiring the rainbow, and of course taking this photo, and then off I set for my walk. I'd still not registered, Rainbow = Sun + Rain.

But less than 2 minutes into my walk the reality of the advancing Monsoon hit me, literally. It was like a tap had been turned on and I was drenched from head to foot. My Nomad kept the top half dry, but the trouble was the rain hit it and was shed off onto trousers and shoes like a waterfall. The moisture then travelled north to more delicate areas. Being on mudflats, in driving rain is not something I'd recommend, quite desolate but strangely uplifting. Today I didn't mind, but I was soaked.

Eventually though the rain eased and the morning returned to it's glorious self, leaving wonderful wet sand and mud and photogenic pictures to be taken.

Bird life is slowly increasing too. My guess is about 150 Dublin are now on the mud, couple of Redshank, Lesser Black Backed and Black Headed gull of course, and at one point a Little Gull struggled past. I didn't count but a handful of Curlew too. And of course the resident Linnet and summer Swallows and House Martins.

But when you're on mudfalts don't look at the birds, look down at your feet at the real powerhouse. If the mud is unpolluted I can guarentee you'll see thousands and thousands of these, Hydrobia ulvae Laver spire shell. These are between 2-5mm in size and are one of the most important components of an Estuary food chain, along with bi-valves.

Spire shells = waders and other invertebrate grazers of the Estuary. It's all going on out there, unseen, day in day out and is why Esturine habitats are vital and must be preserved. Lets hope the Severn Barrage never goes ahead, if it does, we can say goodbye to these creatures. As a group Spire Shells can occur in huge densities (300,000 per square metre), of which the most common Hydrobia ulvae may comprise up to 75 % of the total. Hopefully you'll not overlook them again, next time you're down on the beach.


Finally a bit of admin and news. I've decided to delete my gardening blog, after much thought. It was a good idea at the time, but three blogs is much too much to cope with. Thank you to those of you who commented there, but I hope you'll understand. 2 blogs is actually too much, but I'll keep my art blog going as an occasional blog.

All of Life's Past, All of Life's Future, meet here in the Present.

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