Monday, 14 January 2013

Spitting into the Wind at Hurst

Brent Geese Flying South, Possibly to Avoid Becoming Xmas Lunch
Well folks, for me personally 2013 has, so far, proved a long way off satisfactory. Hopefully things will begin to improve, as time goes by. But enough of my woes, I have a popular blog to maintain. Winter/Spring is always a lean period for foraging but we still love to get out amongst nature, and hope to inspire you to get outdoors, for a walk with your family.
Hurst Spit and Keyhaven Salt Water Lagoon
Much to the children's disappointment, it has not yet snowed where we are. Mind you, we rarely get snow settling in Southampton, even when it is forecast for the area. I always blame this deficit on the hot rocks that lie beneath the city; they are used as a source of geothermal energy to heat part of the city. People never believe me when I say that Southampton used to be a Spa town, but it was.
The Needles, off the West of the Isle of Wight
We have managed to get out and about a bit though, and we had a very exciting and stormy walk on Hurst Spit. Hurst Spit is a massive shingle bank that has been thrown up by the constant action of the elements. It is the closest part of the mainland to the Isle of Wight and has long been a strategic military point for the defence of the Solent seaways to Southampton and Portsmouth. The castle at the end of the spit was built by King Henry the 8th in 1544 and King Charles 1 was imprisoned there in 1648 before being executed. 
More important these days are the large tidal lagoons of Keyhaven, behind the spit, a refuge and harbour for  many small boats and also an important nature reserve and bird sanctuary.
In the Shade (and Lee) of the Spit
When we arrived the Spring Tide and wind had caused the road to flood but we chugged through and found somewhere dry to park. The fist thing that was apparent was the force of the wind, the car was being buffeted all the time.
Some Would Say We Are Crazy - We Would Disagree!
We donned our wet weather gear to shield us from the storm and set off to test ourselves against its power, it was incredible. The waves were smashing into the shore and several times spray and spume breached the vast barrier to soak the few brave walkers. 
Milford, Battered by the Storm
We decided that it would be too exposed to trek to the fort and lighthouse, and chose instead to go the other direction toward Milford. We saw many flocking birds including Fieldfares (I think) in the corn fields where we parked. I could watch birds doing this all day, it is just fascinating how they all change direction at the same time. 
The Brilliant Brent Geese Treat us to Another Honking Fly Past
The highlight for me though was when a vast flock of Brent Geese, that had been grazing on a field, took off as one and wheeled around honking, doing a few laps of  the lagoons, before settling in a different part.

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