Monday, 11 May 2015
Another day, another beach - and lots more wildife
After Saturday spent putting together a short story collection (a mixture of published or not, Murray or not), yesterday was spent at Torry Battery on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
If you want to live in a city but watch wildlife, Aberdeen is high on the list of candidates. You can see grey seals from the bus as you cross to Bridge of Don, the northern suburb; there are roe deer around the university, and foxes too: red squirrels encroach from the west on the urban grey population (hooray!), and a wide variety of birdlife including gulls, oystercatchers, the sparrowhawk on the conservatory roof, red kites on the outskirts (over Allotment Major, in fact), and so on and so on. If you want a fairly comprehensive safari, read Esther Woolfson's Field Notes from a Hidden City (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Field-Notes-Hidden-City-Nature/dp/1847082769/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431328430&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=fieldnotes+from+a+hidden+city), though as she lives in the West End she doesn't see the university foxes.
Torry, however, is the place to watch dolphins. From April to August, you can watch them nearly every day, if you're lucky, and yesterday we were lucky: herding fish, chasing the bowwaves of the oil rig supply ships, hurling themselves in the air like emergency punctuation marks, the black bottlenosed dolphins were everywhere. These northern bottlenoses are the biggest in the world, growing to fight the cold to four metres long. In the pod yesterday were two calves, one palest grey, but if you watch these creatures on a sunny day they are silver as they leap and curl.
Seals, too; eider ducks with their Kenneth Williams remarks; cormorants airing their wings; Arctic terns piercing the grey waves at tremendous speed; oystercatchers' urgent cries; larks calling above. Even the sun came out. We collected small seaweed samples for an RSPB survey, and were well satisfied with our day, glad to accept a lift back to the city to catch our bus home.