Country diary: a lone curlew's song is met with silence

Talsarnau, Gwynedd: The wader’s solitary presence is a remnant sign of once abundant bird life

Something about the late afternoon light across the bay prompted me to slip out and walk by the sea defences, past the mill pool at Ynys, to Llech Ollwyn. There I sat on one of the benches looking over the estuary to Aber Ia, took out flask and spyglass, and awaited developments. The tide had drained from Traeth Bach. Westering sun added a dimension of luxuriance to the sensuality of curving sandbanks, an intensifying brilliance to rippled water and scalloped sand. All the low hills along the Llŷn peninsula – Garn Fadryn, Garn Boduan, Yr Eifl, bulky little Moel-y-Gest in the foreground – were slipping behind a shimmering, pointilliste veil that was moving rapidly my way.

Focusing the telescope, I scanned the estuary for remnant signs of the bird life that was once so abundant at this season. Where years ago I’d have seen vast flocks of pintail, a single small group of birds far out caught my eye, clustered on a low ridge of sand above a sinuous deep channel. The retroussé bill of the largest bird, a suggestion of dove-grey and russet along the thick neck, identified it: rain geese! Red-throated divers. A couple of juveniles, and one adult, still in his gorgeous summer plumage, down early from their breeding grounds on northern Scottish lochans. A dapper squad of oystercatchers flighted in to splash down alongside them.

Continue reading…
Source: The Guardian
Country diary: a lone curlew's song is met with silence