Many people enjoy fish and chips at Aldeburgh. Some choose to eat their meal in their car on the quay at Slaughden – a little bit of salt, a drop of vinegar and views of the North Sea or the River Alde as it wends its way towards Snape. There will usually be gulls queueing up just outside your car hoping for a few leftover chips to be thrown their way or maybe a piece of prime, well-cooked haddock. Not last week, however. Yes, there was fish and chips but no gulls waiting for tit-bits. Instead the gulls, mainly herring gulls and many more than usual, were busy on the shore-line. The sea was ‘boiling’, the waves were huge and the tide was very high. As each wave drove up over the shingle beach, the gulls feasted on small crabs and fish which were being thrown up onto the tide-line. Thousands of shellfish must have died in the recent stormy weather and now the gulls were having a banquet. Once full of crabs, fish and other sea creatures, the gulls flew just offshore away from the crashing waves to digest their ample meal. Obviously, herring gulls quite rightly prefer natural food as opposed to fish and chips. I will remind the lesser black-backed gulls of Ipswich of my findings. Crabs or processed food? I am sure the gulls of Ipswich would go for ‘big-mac’s’ every time.
Cycling to Grundisburgh, I look for signs of spring. The 6 pairs of crows that greet me each morning are busy nest building. The loud song-thrush at Culpho thrashes out his song in the churchyard and from the Cranworth Estate there floats the mellow notes of a mistle thrush. Large flocks of fieldfares are foraging in the fields prior to migrating. The primroses are spectacular this year and many of the ditches hold clumps of this lovely spring flower. Near a particularly large clump of primroses someone has added another feature to the emergence of spring by dumping 4 large plastic bags of ‘god knows what’. On the other side of the road another load of rubbish has been deposited in a gateway. Today the farm manager and another worker were heaving these bags of rubbish onto a trailer. It is usually this farm manager or the Chairman of the local council who make it their responsibility not only to rid the countryside of fly-tipping but are also willing to pay for this ‘pleasure’. Two very different types of person – one who, under the cover of darkness, destroys the countryside’s beauty, the other who dips into his pocket to clear up this garbage. Four days later more bags of rubbish were deposited in the same place just in time for Easter!
The ‘beast from the east’ brought much devastation to our shoreline and its wildlife but it also brought a snowy owl. This magnificent bird was found at RSPB Titchwell Norfolk three weeks ago. Of course, hundreds of “twitchers” and many ‘Harry Potter’ fans arrived to view this owl. It is indeed an ill wind etc.
Travel along almost any country road before the leaves appear and every so often you will see a magpie’s nest and then a crow’s nest followed by another magpie’s nest and then maybe two more crow’s nests. It is the same in Christchurch Park and its surrounds. A crow produces 3 or 4 youngsters, a magpie up to 6. No longer do we have gamekeepers controlling corvids. These two species of crow along with jays need controlling for the sake of our songbirds. I feel that this plea will fall on the deaf ears of the major bird protection societies. Something inevitably will eventually have to happen. Am I the misguided person