Wind and waves at the height of the gale - Campfield Marsh
The weather men - no! that’s not right, they’re mostly weather women - no! that sounds like an article from Saga magazine … anyway, the folk at the Met Office had been threatening us all week with Hurricane Katia, Saskia, Katrina or some other Russian Cat, I forget which! Those American hurricane people must have been reading their Tolstoy’s . However, they’re very touchy these days since the Michael Fish episode that nearly took out the whole of southern England. Talk about early warnings - they had reduced the nation to a state of gibbering fear in anticipation of this monster storm that was coming.
But, sure enough, by 11 o’clock the wind had started to moan and whistle round the hamlet and to make it worse, the high tide series had started. What with that, the full moon and floodwaters coming down the various feeder rivers to the Solway estuary, the omens were not good. By lunchtime the brown swirling waters were flooding onto the saltmarsh and there was still an hour or so to go ‘til full tide!
The wind had now resolved itself into a permanent shriek and the trees were bending double. I said to Judith, “we’ve lost the damson crop and it was just about ready for picking, too” I gazed tremulously from the lounge window over this scene of tempest and surging water. “It was time for comfort food,” cutting myself an extra large slice of ‘Stottie cake’ and a slug of whisky in my ‘Douwe Egbert’s’ - which gave me the illusion of comfort and safety!
Just at that moment, Judith appeared in the lounge, fully decked out in boots and anorak, with the Canon and long lens slung over her shoulder already. “Come on, this is an opportunity of a lifetime! The birds are coming by in hundreds: waders; ducks and gulls, heading for the security of the Saltmarsh Pool area.” “Yes! I can see them from here, Dear!” I said, gulping down the last of the Stottie … I knew my fate was sealed, though. “ I need an anchor man literally, and someone to carry the spare camera,” she said. “Oh well! in for a penny in for a pound,” I thought, “needs must when the devil drives!”
Scrambling for my puffer jacket and balaclava - noting as we struggled out onto the marsh road, 2 or 3 decent sized branches had removed themselves from the old Ash tree - any one of which, had it struck one, would have made you a candidate for A & E.
By now, Judith was furiously clicking the Canon and long lens. “This is wonderful!” she exclaimed, “ I have never been so close to the estuary birds before,” as mixed flocks of Mallard, Teal and Shoveler came ripping past the gorse bushes behind which we were sheltering. A small party of Ringed Plover were thinking of landing but thought better of it and flew on … just the merest waifs, goodness knows how they cope flying into the full force of this tornado?
I was hanging onto Judith for grim life, trying to steady her as she focussed on flocks of Oystercatchers and duck streaming by. Then suddenly my cap was gone. “We’ll get it later,” cried Judith, “there are more flocks coming,” she shouted, as another flock of Teal came in, skimming the waves - in and out of the spray. We marvelled at their mastery of the air!. The continuous piping of Oystercatchers could be heard above the hurricane - their way of keeping in touch with each other. Amazing how such a sound carries!
“That’s it,” cried Judith, “the camera is exhausted. I’ve used up all my memory cards - it’s in the can.” Bent double, we struggled back to the security of our humble abode. Goodness knows what the wind would be registering on the Beaufort Scale! The water was now right up on the back of the saltmarsh - battering into the gorse; the spray almost completely obscuring the Viaduct. “ Good work, that!,” bellowed Judith, “I’ll get it onto the computer now,” as we crashed into the shelter of the hall - still dripping with salt water from the driven spray.
… a day to remember!
Thunderous waves as the high tide pushes in over the saltmarsh.
Oystercatcher, Starlings and Black-headed Gulls battling against the wind.
Oystercatcher flooded off the Inner Estuary, making their way to the more secure roosts on Campfield Marsh.
Hugging the tideline.
Wave on wave of Oystercatchers making the first move westerward.
A Curlew has joined in.
A Cormorant making good progress in such difficult conditions.
A Bar-tailed Godwit joins the movement.
Bar-tail safely tucked in behind the main group.
These Mallard are shown to be strong fliers as they battle against the gusts.
Mallard making good headway.
Ringed Plover rounding the Point.
Coming down and looking for somewhere to land.
Attempting to land.
Another small flock coming along, this time Teal.
Shoveler confidently flying over the breakers.
A very purposeful group of Shoveler taking the rough weather in their stride.
Shoveler banking as they change direction going round the Point.
Mixed group of Oystercatcher, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls having reached the shelter of the Saltmarsh Pool area.
Safe haven from the wind has been reached.