Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wednesday 19th November 2008


Still suffering from a bad back, and taking my chiropracter's advice, I visited Sidmouth today and did some walking around the town and seafront area, also managing to hobble round Connaught Gardens. These small council-owned gardens sit right on the top of the cliff, at the western end of Sidmouth's main beach. They are well-tended and in spring and summer are a blaze of colour, thanks to wonderful planting of beautiful flowering plants. The gardens are also well-known to local birders for producing views of Purple Sandpipers and Black Redstarts! I called in this morning but the tide was right up and there were none of the former species on view. I also drew a blank with regard to the latter. These tend to frequent the thatched roofs of the large houses immediately east of the gardens. What was apparent though was a huge gathering of Herring Gulls across the bay, presumably enticed in to a very large fish shoal. These remained out there all day. The gardens are in a bit of a precarious position, being sited at the top of the red sandstone cliffs. To the east and west of the town a lot of cliff erosion is taking place and regular falls of tons of cliff occur. Spectacularly, to the west of Connaught Gardens is a house right on top of the cliff heading up towards Peak Hill. It has already lost some of its garden down the cliff, and one wonders just how long the place will still be standing! I would imagine that it cost the owners many thousands of pounds a few years ago. I would also imagine that it is practically worthless now, as the eroding cliff gets ever closer............
I walked round the town with my lovely wife, and we took lunch in one of our favourite cafes - wonderful! Mid afternoon, and I was back along the western end of the beach to check Chit Rocks, which thanks to the receding tide were now starting to become visible. A few Oystercatchers and Turnstones were feeding on them, and thanks to diligent searching, a Purple Sandpiper was found fairly close in to the path. These little beggars are a so-and-so to find. They are small, dumpy, the colour of seaweed-covered rocks and stick like limpets to said rocks, always seeming to know just where to stand to avoid being swept away by the next crashing wave! There are usually around 6 of them on these rocks, but I could only find the single one today.

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