Posted by: Ross Gardner | January 4, 2014

The New Year……

The second day of the New Year and a sunny interlude to what seems like an incessant conveyor of cloud and rain.  I find myself walking along Southend seafront, towards Leigh and closer to home.  It is busy with people; but for the albeit seasonally mild but chilly temperature it has a small sense of the seafront in summer about it.  Away form the breeze and against the south facing ‘cliffs’ it is milder still.  These are, it should be said, cliffs by name rather than by nature.  It is really a strip of parkland that slopes down towards the beach-side road.  All the same, they harbour the small creatures that might brave the winter.  Alongside the sun-bathing flies and hanging spiders I find a Green Shieldbug catching its own rays on a leaf.  It is more bronze than green, as is the norm for those that might occasionally seen in the winter.

Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina).  Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner.

Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina). Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner.

The beach is still largely covered by the tide only just turned.  The birds that cover the mud on this side of the Thames have found their high-tide roosts.  For a few dozen Turnstone, this means flying no further than the seawall along the busy seafront.  Here is a bird that has adapted, at least around these parts, to a close proximity with people.  Someone has put out some stale bread on a balcony pillar by the beach which they are setting about quite unperturbed, by passing people and my camera lens just a few metres away.

With the waves lapping the shore there are few other species of bird to be seen, but I do meet one other than the Black-headed and Herring Gulls, scurrying along the tide-line.  It is a Sanderling, a small wader, rather like a pale looking Dunlin.  Like so many that winter around Britain they have flown far to be here, all the way from the now frozen Arctic tundra in Greenland, Canada and Siberia.  This little bird too, seems quite happy to share with me this small stretch of beach between the breakwaters.

The New Year is well met.

Sanderling (Calidris canutus).  Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner

Sanderling (Calidris canutus). Copyright 2014 Ross Gardner

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