As you can imagine we haven’t had many visitors to the island so far this season. Travel restrictions have kept those arriving on the island to the bare minimum. Now, however, hundreds of new arrivals are starting to land – all flying in from West Africa. Unaffected by the lockdown these seasonal visitors are arriving under their own steam and preparing for a long summer hiding amongst the island flora. It’s corncrake season!
Of course they’re not here for a holiday – they have a busy summer ahead of them nest building, mating, and raising young.
In past years we’ve had pairs nesting in the fields behind our house, in our garden and amongst the nettles just below the cottage on the edge of the beach. We’ve seen young being raised in all locations and we’re hoping for another ringside seat this year.
At this time of year the beaches along the shore below the cottage are never walked by large numbers of people. Footprints in the sand are rarely seen – sometimes the double tracks of walker and dog are clear and occasionally those of otters are seen along the beach before the tide takes them away.
With the current lockdown tracks are even more rare and it’s easy to imagine Robinson Crusoe’s surprise on finding that famous footprint – “it happened one day, about noon going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen on the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I looked round me, but I could hear nothing, nor see anything; I went up to a rising ground to look farther; I went up the shore and down the shore, but it was all one; I could see no other impression but that one. I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the print of a foot — toes, heel, and every part of a foot.”
One of the most intriguing finds along the beach, when tides are low, are the initials carved into the rocks that lie along the shore below the township. These little windows into times past were, we think, painstakingly created by islanders leaving on long journeys, sometimes with no prospect of return, or sweethearts thrown together by circumstances. Not many have carved dates but quite a few are from WW2 or the years immediately after the conflict. Years of great doubt and uncertainty.
They’re a poignant reminder that forming, keeping and preserving relationships is such an important part of our lives – whether we’re living in a small island community or in any village, town or large city.
In tonight’s sky we’ll see a supermoon – it will look larger and brighter than usual because it’s one of those times when the moon is at its closest to the earth. Apparently, the ‘Super Pink Moon’ was given its name by native North American tribes living along the eastern seaboard because the April full moon often corresponds with the blooming of pink phlox flowers across the landscape in that area.
Supermoons also bring huge tidal ranges – and we can already see this along the beach below the cottage. Rocks and sand bars that normally lie hidden are exposed and open, and these areas, which are great places to explore, often reveal old wrecked ships, pieces of rusty machinery and names carved on the rocks. All signs of human activity that show the highs and lows of life along the coast.