Two days after Christmas it is cold but still and a good day for walking. So Sarah and I drive over to the far side of the Wirral and do our favourite walk, our favourite meditation. It’s The Shining Shore walk and I’ve written about it many times on here before. So today I won’t write about the walk so much as a few observations on the way round. And some more pictures of those curlews.
Nosing through kissing gates and pointing out interesting things to smell.
Where, as ever, the food tastes better outdoors.
Both to use getting the fire going on her allotment.
I am always at peace here among these trees. Whether under the canopy cover of high summer or the open to the sky of now. I’ve come to this place for years now, mostly with Sarah but also with other friends and we never just walk through. It’s a place that seems to ask you to stop. Stop walking. Stop worrying if you’re worrying. Stop thinking if you’re thinking too much. Just stop. And be.
Today I stop and I only think of the trees. And this is enough.
The day is very very still. As quiet as we’ve ever heard it down here. So we speak quietly too.
I also notice the cliffs, the boulder clay cliffs of Thurstaston and their continuing erosion. Here’s me from four years ago:
“The cliffs at Thurstaston are a thing of great beauty. Made of eroding boulder clay, they are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and cannot be protected from erosion – it is the erosion that is important to their status. But the erosion is now proceeding faster than we’ve ever seen because of the extremely heavy rainfall that’s been happening much of the time since last Summer.
The boulders in the cliffs are rocks transported to Wirral from Scotland and the Lake District underneath glaciers during the last Ice Age, ending between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago. (Much more about the geology of here can be learned from ‘A History of Wirral’ by Stephen J. Roberts, a reader of this blog, which I’ve just borrowed from the library.)
And I get that the cliffs are naturally eroding. The tide reaches them most days after all. But this rate of collapse is extraordinary and is explained by the amount of water the hillside is attempting to hold. The whole of our walk today would have to be described as ‘squelchy’ – and that’s been true of all the walks we’ve done here since last Spring. The weather has changed radically, and the rapid collapse of the cliffs would seem to be one result.
So if you love them, come and see them soon. We can’t save them, we can only bear witness.”
Today, at the end of 2016, I bear witness.
Then the flock of curlews put all thoughts of sorrow and geology out of our minds. Sarah notices them first.
While I’m taking this picture a soft drumming which is the beating of all of their wings whooshes suddenly louder…
My hands and my eyes and my soul know this is special so I follow the flock with my camera as it swoops and soars and I take these photographs.
As the flock heads off over to Wales we both breathe out again, breathing the word ‘murmuration.’ Except these are definitely wading birds and not starlings.
Gorgeous and miraculous.
And for the next show?
Special in their way, but if their motors had buzzed over us a couple of minutes ago then the curlews might not have done what they just did.
With the everyday miracle that is Nicholl’s Ice Cream. Perfect.
Later on I check if that was a murmuration we saw and the word does only seem to apply to flocks of starlings. Still, if you google ‘flock of curlews’ you’ll see some pictures similar to the ones I took today.