Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Along the coastline yesterday I came across a group of herons standing in the shallows. As you can see in Bill Haley's lovely photograph there is often a single heron and a mixture of waterfowl down there but I’ve never seen so many herons together before. I couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture so you’ll have to imagine the scene. It was one of those late quiet evenings where the shrill whistle of the oystercatcher echoes over the ridged mudflats. Somewhere further out I could hear the occasional plop and splash of the carved tidal trenches caving in as the water approached. The tide was well out but had turned and was being led rapidly in by a creeping wide margin of mucky foam. The herons stood like grey statues in the shallows beyond the foam. There were eight of them standing in a line. About twenty feet apart. Silent and absolutely motionless, they could have been some beautiful sculpture. While I watched a ninth one arrived, gliding down with a huge wingspan and landing hunched up and hopping like a vulture.
Within seconds this one had also adopted the stance of the others. I don’t know what had attracted them to that particular spot. Investigating further would have meant disturbing them and, despite my curiosity, that felt wrong. It was a beautiful sight. I left them fishing and made my way home as the sea reclaimed the muddy beach.
I was met by my neighbour with half a dozen bottles of his acclaimed home brewed beer. With names like Wee Willy Wonky and Sporran Lifter I’ll be interested to see how they affect my Dearly Beloved when he next visits. He would never shirk in the duty of providing feedback for local produce. I'm partial to real ale myself so I hope his next visit isn't too far away...