02 December 2012

day 2 : glitter

A fling of dunlin* on Rainham Marshes
Walking today along the wall above the Thames looking north across Rainham Marshes, there is a good view of the industrial landscape: pylons, wind turbines, a railway line, the mesh of the Dartford Bridge to the east, the Shard and Canary Wharf to the west looking like miniature building bricks.  Over the marsh a flock of dunlin lifts up and swirl around.  As they rise and fall, twist and turn, they manage to perform a kind of optical illusion, disappearing against the trees, then shimmering suddenly as they turn their white undersides towards the low light in the south.  They swish and swoop, landing briefly in the pools, then a few minutes later fly up, and drop down again and again like glitter falling over the marsh.  The light show is amazing, almost hypnotic. Then, without even waiting for the applause, they turn towards us, fly over our heads with a gentle whoosh, and disappear over the river.

Not quite the kind of glitter you might expect in the calendar, but perfect winter magic nevertheless.

*You can just see the dunlin at the bottom of the picture in the middle against the trees.  The best my camera could do, I'm afraid.  I found a reference to the collective noun being a fling, but personally I'd have called them a glitter, a twinkling, or a sprinkle.


rachel said...

How very lovely - a fling!

monix said...

Living, as I do, surrounded by sand, sea and rolling countryside, it is sometimes difficult to notice the beauty in such an excess. You have managed to convey the stunning beauty of the sparkling dunlin against an industrial background. How lovely.