Sunday, October 28

Stanpit Marsh - "It was a dark and stormy night"

A quote famously associated with Snoopy seemed suitable for today. One of my occasional dog walking venues was perfect for Sunday's weather as a wet and stormy day showed no sign of relenting.

And whatever my outdoor plans for the day, the dog's need had a higher priority.

For you see the older collie is not a happy lady at present. Old age has been noticeably catching up on her these last few months, so a gentle & flat stroll was order of the day. No excitement, and no physical over exertion. Already off her food and with her health giving cause for concern we try to keep her active alongside the other dog. To keep some interest and help put some spirit back into her day to day life.

And after a few minutes moving into the teeth of the storm her pace soon picked up settling down once more into a that smooth gait so typical of a collie outdoors. Not quite as fluid as it used to be, but a definite improvement on her limping movements around home.

Today's meander was around Stanpit Marsh butting out into Christchurch Harbour. During the summer a hive of activity, and a popular nature spot. Beloved of the birding community, but a little too over popular with the dog short-walk community and hence associated with outbreaks of dog related bugs.
Looking back at Christchurch Priory

But during the winter months, especially during poor weather sweeping in from the English Channel, a quiet place with regular migratory bird activity to watch. A natural rest spot for the flocks passing through. The contrast between the land based nature reserve and the harbour itself, the outflow of the Rivers Stour and Avon into the sea, always throwing up something new to observe.

A couple of hardy individuals, the human variety, were loitering near the car park with their rats-on-leads. The general lack of wet weather gear admirable given the conditions. I always wonder whether some people just naturally enjoy getting soaked, or are they just incapable of taking a look out of the window before they leave the security of their nice dry house.

But whatever their approach I was suitably wet weather clad and once out amongst the marshland had the place to myself for a circular route. Not a long one, but taken steadily one offering plenty of variation.

And wind. What wind. With the sort of driving rain that makes you glad for a decent rainhood. Let's see Nick Crane's infamous umbrella cope with this sort of weather!

Random sights along the way:
How about one of the few remaining World War II Bailey Bridges designed and constructed locally?
Or maybe the strange sight of the rusting hull of the landlocked boat aka the Stanpit Boat now carefully fenced off to prevent it trying to escape back to the sea once the proper winter flooding kicks in and covers large areas of this marsh.

And as we gently moved back to the start point the storm blowing in from the south west behind us showed little sign of relenting. A lesson not lost on these ponies using the natural wind break created by the Naturalists Information point.

And here the information board relaying the usual high quality bird and wildlife reports. But today noting an increase in rabbit myxomatosis on the local feral population. The summer conditions beneficial to the mossies and other blood feeders that sadly have once more speeded up the spread of the disease across the area generally.
Well at least someone enjoyed their summer. Or so it would seem.

Now the next few months look like my turn with the tourists having mostly fled and most local folk starting to look indoors for their recreational activities over the coming months.

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Did they really have rats on leads or were you just being unnecessarily rude?
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