Taking Pictures in the Dark

A late start.

I’d walked across the fields and along the clifftop, by the time I reached Heald Brow the sun was already setting. I dropped down the steep bank to the salt-marsh to see a buzzard take-off from close-by with something substantial in it’s beak, possibly a small rabbit. It landed on a stunted hawthorn growing out on Quaker’s Stang, but minutes later doubled back and perched in a tree beside the path I was following, kew kewing softly as it perched.

Unfortunately no amount of polishing seems to improve on this silhouette image, but this is still, I think, my best photo yet of a buzzard. Buzzards are reasonably commonplace here. On most walks I would expect to see at least one, but in rural Leicestershire in the 1970s they were, as far as I know, completely absent, which in part at least perhaps explains why I still feel such excitement every time one circles overhead or launches itself from a nearby tree.

Across quicksand pool to Warton Crag. 

The water in Quicksand Pool is as low as I think I’ve seen it. On the far side of this narrow rivulet the edge of the salt-marsh runs down to the river Keer. The beach just below the salt-marsh looked to be unusually firm and sandy and it occurred to me that a walk in that direction, where there are no paths and access is difficult, would be quiet and potentially interesting. I was idly debating the wisdom or otherwise of wading across Quicksand Pool to reach that far bank when the tide came racing up the channel as if to underline the lunacy of that idea.

The tide boiling up the channel.

At Jenny Brown’s Point I found a comfortable place to sit and watch a motley collection of birds gather and then depart from a rapidly dwindling island of sandbar.

The sandbar.

The lone heron left first, then the four curlews, which had huddled together in the shallow water just off the island as if distrusting the strident gulls and oystercatchers. The gulls lifted in large groups and flew low over my head, wheeling and dipping and bickering as they went. The oystercatchers departed in squadrons, flickering low over the water, looking in the low light like a ghostly v of ripples arrowing across the bay behind an invisible boat. The odd cormorant flew past, a ragged patch of night sky sent ahead on a scouting mission. When the last of the oystercatchers moved on, so did I.

The currents caused by the tides here confuse me: sometimes they seem to run north up the coast, but at other times, as tonight, they flow south.

This tide brought large floating islands of…..? I couldn’t say for sure what they were, but I suspect great rafts of brown scum.

To the north the folds of the coast and the hills beyond faded into ever softer tones of grey. I snapped away in the darkness, to no real avail, but quite contended none the less.

Taking Pictures in the Dark

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