Walking The Dog 9
High summer. A blanket of thick grey cloud and a force four or five south-easterly blasts a fine drizzle into my face. We’re checking out the aftermath of yesterday’s invasion and the pleasant surprise is that there’s no evidence at all of the drama that was played out near the Langstone bridge.
The world, his wife and about a thousands grockles invaded our space yesterday all in search of a dying whale. Actually there were probably about a hundred turning the sea wall in front of Langstone millpond into a grandstand. It’s a well known fact though that one grockle causes a disturbance in the Force equivalent to 10 locals so the initial, instictive estimate is more accurate.
Sid, the harbourmaster, came into The Bluebell at lunchtime on Thursday and relayed the news. I took a walk up there with the dogs out of interest and the fantasy of a five figure photography fee. To be honest, I don’t understand the fuss. I know that Captain Kirk and Mr Spock have helped to endow whales with mystic, spiritual qualities but I see more interesting, exciting and tragic things nearly every day in Chichester harbour. When the grockles arrived the following day I don’t think one of them turned round and noticed the 30 odd little egrets roosting in the trees just a few yards behind them. The television crews certainly didn’t.
The entire area was in gridlock. Glorious Goodwood and the whale turned our local paradise into an extension of the M25. Television crews and photographers with lenses as long as my arm clogged our roads and pathways. In the harbour itself, massive RIBs, the inshore lifeboat, helicopters and even a police boat added to the mainly manmade drama and the huge cost of it all. All credit to them though because this morning when I walked past the millpond where yesterday there was even a tent erected for the press and the multiple veterinary, wildlife and eco professionals, there wasn’t a single scrap of litter to be seen.
The same morning that the sorry whale paddled up the channel between Thorney and Hayling, Capone, Carla and I were on the other side of Thorney, in our latest favourite spot, waist deep in the saltmarsh grasses. Our friend the heron came into sight and as we sidled up towards him I was delighted to see that his mate was there. My longest lens is a mere few inches so, as best as one can with two dogs squabbling over a stick, I tried to get closer.
The birds took off and escaped me but as we reached the limit of that direction where a vicious barbed wire fence hinders any further progress, I saw them both on the side of the river bank. Then I saw double, for perhaps 60 or 70 yards in front of me were four herons casually watching the water and thinking about breakfast.
This was a truly remarkable sight. Much more interesting to me than a enormous, sad mammal lying in the mud and I managed to record it at the limit of my zoom lens. This was my scoop, captured in glorious Kodak colour while the grandstand roared and cheered and applauded.