This blog post is special, because I am a year older than when I wrote my last one. Well, I guess I’m technically only a few weeks older than when I last posted here, but officially I am now 23. That means I really am in my 20s now. None of this still hanging around the entrance, I’ve moved out of the foyer, beyond the lobby, and into… uh, I’m not really sure how to continue that metaphor.
I haven’t had time for any artwork since my last entry, but I did get the chance to try out my new(ish) camera, so that counts as something to put in here. A weekend or two ago, a few friends from my MSc course invited me to go on a very marine biologist-oriented day out to Colne Point. I’ve been working a lot on my experimental work as the time for sampling drawns closer, and I thought it would be nice to have a day out to do something nature-y, but not related to my work at all. It was just what I needed.
As I think I have mentioned before, I live near an estuary. Colchester is the point where the Colne River really stops becoming a river and starts becoming a little more salty and tidal. If you go further towards the coast from Colchester, you start to get some characteristic habitats of estuaries, like salt marshes. So we decided a good thing for marine biologists to do would be to go and trapse through the salt marshes at Colne Point. As ever, click on the images to see them in their full glory.
Colne Point is a SSSI, which (if you’re not familiar with, or not from the UK) means it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s also a National Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area (SPA). Basically, it’s a big conservation site. There are a few rare plant species, like samphire, which I understand is very tasty. It’s designation as a SPA means it’s an important breeding ground for a lot of species of birds. So it’s pretty important.
Colne Point is very much in the middle of nowhere, there were a few houses behind the sea wall, on a road called Wall Street (I unfortunately couldn’t get a picture of that). A very kind man let us park near his geese, which we were quite thankful for since the car park was flooded by the time we came back. There were a few summer houses built on top of cinder blocks to prevent them from getting flooded. One of the houses was called Tide Mark, which I’m fairly certain is not a good name for your house.
It was a very cold, windy day and as most of the birds use the salt marsh in the summer, it was a little bare. We got there just at high tide, so the water was running very high, and the bridge to get to the beach was dangerously (well, kinda) close to the water level. The salt marsh was a very stark landscape, it would have made an excellent watercolour painting. We hiked our way through the tall grasses to get to the beach. There were a lot of oyster shells around, as the Colne is famous for its oysters. They are strange creatures as they sort of grow into anything, so a lot of the shells had other kinds of shells, rocks, seaweads, even other oysters stuck to them.
On our way back, we stumbled upon a sun star. I don’t think a lot of people associate brightly coloured animals with British beaches, but they exist. We get starfish, brittle stars, crabs, all kinds of fish, sea urchins, even the little sea slugs that people usually associate with coral reefs. It was a shame that this sun star was dead when we found it, but it was a cool find nonetheless. Getting back through the salt marsh was tricky, because even though the tide was going out, the water takes a lot longer to drain out of the marsh. So we had a bit of wading to do. But before we knew it, we were back in the warmth of the SU with a cup of tea.
All in all, a very fun day. I’m hoping to bring a field sketch book with me next time I go somewhere so I can bring back drawings too. I’m hoping to go to one of the RSPB reserves soon, so perhaps there will be an even more eventful adventure to report on shortly. I’m aware this entry isn’t a particularly stellar example of photojournalism, but the best photos I had didn’t necessarily correspond to what I wanted to say… also it’s late. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I’m hoping next time I can inject a bit of artwork and sketchiness into my story. Until then, I’ll just leave you with an abstract structure we found on the beach.