Basin Notes - December 2000

A Picture of the Basin

Observe. Night into day, light over shade, twitching wings banish the stygian stillness. Clear, sharp, cold Caledonian pastels of morning draw orange edges to the obese clouds.

Scolding redshank march up and down spreading the shrill gossip like fish-wives to the oystercatchers, while washing lines of cormorant dry their wings. Skittering lapwing play like rowdy children over eider, black and white tinged with blush pink and green.

Oozing, worm-cast decorated, bird-footed mud covers snail and worm in a game of hide-and-seek with beaks a-plenty. Banana-curved seals ignore the game and flop between somnolent goosander. Curlews stride, judge-like, probing the mire for truth and worms. Turnstones turn stones.

The swift scimitar-shaped peregrine scythes across the scene in a flurry of grey-then-white knot, dipping and ducking away from razor sharp talons. Like grey beads from a broken necklace pink-footed geese bounce across a sky framed by hungry gulls protesting their place in the scheme of things.

Reeds sway and rustle with the careful quiet steps of the water rail and probing snipe. The coiled-necked, eye-bright heron, sharp-beaks its way through the stirring stems to a tasty morsel. Brackish pools reflect teal and wigeon to the susurrating breeze.

The foreground is green swished with colour as teasel-raiding goldfinch show their red faces to red breasted robins proclaiming their rights to one and all. Suddenly, the bushes explode with sparrow and finch projectiles avoiding the aerial blast of the detonating sparrowhawk. In the quiet aftermath, twitching-nosed rabbits sniff the air and lobe-footed moorhens stalk by under an acrobatic woodpecker winkling out peanuts with beak and tongue.

Visit the Wildlife Centre and "paint" your own "Picture of the Basin".