A really beautiful autumn morning finds me wandering along the beach at Oxwich Bay. The luxury of only a handful of local walkers on the vast expanse of sand reminds me once again why I live here. A few crows and gulls are the only birds on the shore, but this only adds to the tranquillity. I watch a common gull trying to crack open a shell by dropping it onto the hard sand from a great height; it needs several attempts, but eventually succeeds.
At the far end of the beach the narrow river meanders out from the reed beds through an oxbow into the sea, and is usually busy with bathing gulls and feeding wagtails. Today’s emptiness is striking, but unpredictability is what makes the natural world so fascinating. Turning landward at the end of the dunes the lapping sound of the shore fades, and I watch a shoal of fish-fry darting from my shadow in the stream and hope for a kingfisher, but it’s the kind of morning when wildlife is scarce. Undaunted I sit and wait. There’s always something to grab one’s attention, and today it’s jays. There are lots about at the moment, as they arrive for the winter from Scandinavia, and I can hear their scalding calls disturbing the silence of the woodland behind the marsh. A small flock appears, then singles here and there, flying back and forth from the woods to the dunes, each carrying an acorn to be stored for winter food. Not all of these will be found, and the fruits of their labour are the young oaks quickening the succession from marram-covered sand dune to mature woodland.