Thursday, 3 October 2019

Walk to Pye's Hall to watch the Big Spring Tide

This week has seen the highest Spring Tides of the year so it was with interest that Heather and I were up by 5.30 for an early start to watch the tide flowing up the creek of the Seven Towns Great Eau through where the sluice at Pye's Hall had once been.  When we arrived at the Stonebridge car park we nearly had it to ourselves with only one or two dog walkers about.  It was a beautiful, if chilly (5C), morning with mainly clear skies and a scattering of clouds.  The sun was not yet up as we made our way along the inland sea bank built in 2012 to create the new anti-flood coastal realignment zone.  From the top of the bank we could see out across the salt marsh which was well flooded and beyond to the white water of the large breakers foaming on the sand banks.  It was not long before the sun rose above the back of cloud to dispel some of the early chill.  Out along the bank there is a really wild and solitary feel; a real 'sense of place'.  Eventually we reached the old sea bank giving us a view not only over the realignment area, but across the vast expanse of the saltmarsh all the way up to Cleethorpes, where we could make out the sentinel of the dock tower in the distance.  Walking now towards Pye's Hall (once an actual grand hall, but long since demolished) we were in a watery world with the salt marsh on one side and the realignment zone on the other.  Not only could we see water all around, but we could hear it too: the constant roaring of the surf on the distant sandbanks and the quieter, more muted, but hurrying trickle and gurgle as water flooded the marshes.  When we arrived at Pye's Hall the scene was amazing, with the tide being squeezed through the gap with rips, eddies and whirlpools; a white water kayaker would have been in their element. The sounds of birds were all around.  In the distance the constant piping of oystercatchers and the incessant cries of that sentinel of the marsh, the redshank.  The harsh calls of the numerous black headed gulls formed a background with the occasional courlie of the curlew, one of my all time favourite bird calls.  Skeins of pink footed and Canada geese flew over treating us to their wild yelps.  Squadrons of ducks kept flying in to form flotillas on the water and, best of all, a peregrine falcon, the fastest of all birds, rent the air just above our heads.  In the winter the coast and salt marshes are good hunting grounds for this supreme apex predator, the immense wader flocks forming their food supply.  Large numbers of little egrets were busy feeding.  These stunning white members of the heron family have gradually increased in number and are now counted as resident breeders; it doesn't seem many years ago that the nearest location to see these birds was in Normandy.  On arriving back at the car we were surprised to see it full: busy with ramblers and birdwatchers come to watch the tide.  Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust wardens were there, too, presumably to establish the seal wardens' hut; the first pups will be born this month.  Even the seasonal tea and burger van had arrived. 

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