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Time And Tide Wait For No Man...

  • Thu 7th Feb, 2019

It had caught me out again, the tide. I had delayed too long and time had run away from me, until there were only two hours left until it was high. I donned my boots and scarf and set off to South Landing, along the dazzling white rocky shore, blindingly bright in the winter sun.

High Tide © Susie O'NeillHigh Tide © Susie O'Neill

It's an incredibly peaceful walk, barely ever a soul, with the privacy of being flanked on one side by the ancient chalk cliffs and on the other by a stretch of water as far as the eye can see.

Great black-backs watched me watching them from the shore, as they bobbed on the undulating waves, and I was diverted by goldfinch and rock pipits on the cliff side.

But the sea didn't care.

There was enough time, yet the thought would still creep in, unbidden, like the tide.

Flocks of sanderling caught my eye, running along the edge of the surf, rendered almost invisible against the white rocks and busy little turnstones darted in and out of the seaweed beside me.

Oystercatchers © Susie O'NeillOystercatchers © Susie O'Neill

Coming upon the remains of a fair-sized landslide made me edgy again and after rounding it I disturbed a parcel of oystercatchers who flew up and out to sea, affording me a beautiful view of their striking black and white wing pattern. I came upon them a few more times, as they settled further along, and each time they lifted away, as if to mock me with their ease of escape.

The big cliff fall at South Landing © Susie O'NeillThe big cliff fall at South Landing © Susie O'Neill

The fulmars, in their habitual nest sites, drew my ear and I realised I had missed their staccato cracking cackle, having become so familiar with their incessant calls in the summer.

Fulmar © Richard BainesFulmar © Richard Baines

A pair glided unusually close to me, revealing that beautiful dark smudge across the eye which belies their heritage, while the cold of the water splashing across my wellies was a gentle reminder to press on.

Fulmar Nests from the beach below the cliffs © Susie O'NeillFulmar Nests from the beach below the cliffs © Susie O'Neill

I made it, of course, with time to spare.

The cliff path back was the wiser option, but not nearly so interesting!

Susie O'Neill

Susie works for the RSPB based at the Bempton Cliffs Reserve. She is also a local author. We are very pleased at YCN to welcome her on to our writing team, look out for more encounters on our news section soon! You can read her YCN profile Click Here.