Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Living Decoys

Teal are easily spooked; even at this distance I have to be careful to keep out of sight.  They fly in, land in a flash of green wings, and head straight for the cover of the reeds; the South Pond at Oxwich is silent again.  I keep out of sight, but they know I’m here; shovelers, mallards, gadwalls sit motionless like decoys, eyes fixed.  One step into the open, and they scurry across the water to resettle at a safer distance.

Below the bent and broken stems of last year, and virgin shoots of yellow flag and phragmites break through the murky waters of the reed bed.  It will be some time before the watery green carpet of spring appears properly, but I’m content with the vibrant mosses and lichens on ancient willows and alders.

There are threatening clouds over Oxwich Beach. It’s warm, and apart from a few distant walkers, the great expanse of sand is deserted.  At the mouth of Nicholaston Pill, a motley collection of gulls loaf about and bath in the shallow water as it gently creeps into the sea.  There’s a grace and softness to the common gulls, reminding me of the gentle nature of kittiwakes, very different from the severe looking herring and black-backed gulls sitting on the wet sand by the tide line.

Overcast skies clear, the blond-coloured marsh lights up in a rosy evening glow, and I listen in vain for my first spring chiffchaff in the wood beyond the stream.  Excited greylag geese shatter the peace, honking loudly as they crash into roost; more arrive, settling in pairs ready for breeding in the weeks ahead.  Silhouetted grey herons float gracefully towards the alder wood by the Middle Pond, soon to be a hive of breeding activity.  A snipe flies up almost from beneath my feet, twists and turns, and disappear into the twilight. In the diminishing light, a thin reddish line appears in the sky over Oxwich Wood, the plaintive, distant song of a mistle thrush near the village fades long before a nearby song thrush, and both gradually merge with the tawny owls calling in the near darkness.

No comments:

Post a Comment