A couple of speculative days down on the north coast of Gower, at Llanridian Marsh, brought some interesting birds and intriguing light. I decided to pick one spot and stay with it all day, not moving at all.
In many ways it’s perhaps the antithesis of the WALK project, although I know on such meanderings it’s acknowledged that at times it is important to stand still, listen and absorb. I do find, however,that much of my work involves being stationary, in hides or set up somewhere on the coast. I like the idea that if there’s something around it will probably show and if you stay put you get a greater understand of a place. It’s very contemplative and feels like you are investing something sincere into the landscape, giving it time.
A wild Landscape
North Gower is a wild open landscape with big skies. It is very different to the south, which boasts some fine beaches but is also much busier, even at this time of the year. The north holds you in a way that the south can’t. It’s a place that draws you in and offers possibilities that excite.
When nothing seems to happen
It was in this frame of mind that I spent the last couple of days. What would I experience and see giving one spot so long? How would it effect me and would a desire to move take hold? The answer to the latter was a resounding no. Time sped by, eight hours was not long enough, I craved for more, felt cheated when the light finally gave of its last. It wasn’t that Llanridian Marsh was so full of activity, hours would pass when very little seemed to happen. Bird life, save for the odd carrion crow and languid gull, could come to a halt and only very subtle changes in the light were apparent.
What is the experience?
Externally, however, that is, the visible changes you encounter, are only one aspect of the experience. Internally, how it effects you emotionally and spiritually, is more interesting. It always held the possibility of a significant event, like a hen harrier quartering the marsh or a heavy shower threatening and these were tangible. The harrier was elusive though, but it didn’t matter and only a very light shower flecked the marsh. Merlin, sparrowhawk and a great white egret showed, all fleetingly, but enough to set the heart racing. Staying in one place gave sense to cloud movements over hours and with it light changes that are never quite so acutely observed, I think, when moving through a landscape.
Both walking and the other alternative of staying put offer different experiences, and at a later time I’ll look at the relationship between the two and see where it takes me.
The birds seen from the one spot:
Goldfinch, linnet, house sparrow, starling, carrion crow, raven, jackdaw, green woodpecker, oystercatcher, golden plover, shelduck, skylark, meadow pipit, mallard, little egret, great-white egret, heron, buzzard, merlin, sparrowhawk, red kite, kestrel, great black-backed gull, black-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull, wren, magpie, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, blackbird, dunnock, pied wagtail, wood pigeon, lapwing, mute swan, cormorant.