Saturday, 11 April 2009

Summer comes early to Strangford

A couple of months ago our raft separated from its mooring and disappeared, which is noteworthy a) because a raft gives swimming a purpose and b) because this one has been used for four consecutive seasons by a pair of breeding terns as a kind of daytime base from which to fish the sound. I took the boat into every inlet of every island around here, but without result – it must have been taken by the tides into the open lough, which means it could be anywhere.
Anyway, we decided to build a bigger and better raft, and to float it by the beginning of May, which is when the first terns always arrive in Strangford. This year, though, everything has been upside down, bird-wise. This morning, for example, I was surprised to see a flock of brent geese grazing the point to the northwest of the cabin, when by rights they should have been halfway to the Arctic; and last Wednesday, to confound the loss of the raft, the terns showed up – a good three weeks early. I couldn’t believe it, and set to yesterday morning to build them a raft. Eddie supervised operations, and with an early start I had the raft in the water by lunchtime.The new raft is twice the size of the original, and will make a better bathing platform; and in fact our hope is that George the grey seal might use it now and then to bask in the sun.
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