Walking along a beach anywhere in the world, it is hard for me to resist picking things up. Usually pretty shells, maybe an interesting piece of driftwood or a particular pebble with distinctive colouring or shape. However, it struck me this morning, on what has become our usual weekend walk beside the sea, there is very little of interest to pick up on Lumley beach – much to the relief of my husband who has to contend with the various rescued items rattling around in the car for weeks, or displayed somewhere around the house.
This morning the tide was coming in, slowly creeping up the smooth sand. Plenty of footprints showed that many walkers and joggers had been and gone before us. The advancing waves meant that we were more or less following the line of modern detritus being gradually nudged up towards that left by the last tide. Plastic bottles abound – I’m not sure why people who recycle them are not out combing the beach every day – plastic pouches from drinking water (the most affordable way for most people to buy clean water), and miscellaneous shapes of polystyrene and foam are ubiquitous. For the past two weeks there have been oranges all over the beach. Yes, I mean oranges the fruit, in various stages of decay as they have been apparently bobbing around in seawater and sand for sometime. I wondered if they had washed off a passing ship, but as most cargo is now containerised, this seems unlikely. More probable a local boat heading for a nearby market had lost them. Anyway, they have given me something to kick as we pass by.
Less pleasantly, this morning we saw two dead dogs,their legs unnaturally stiff and pointing skyward like upturned tables, their bellies distended. On our outward walk they were ignored by all, but as we returned, a vulture was hesitantly hopping around one corpse. We earlier saw a flock of ‘Minista birds’ (black and white pied crows) all trying to perch in a palm tree. It was a strange site to see so many together and all trying to find space on the flimsy palm fronds. I wonder whether they had spotted the corpses, but there were too many footballers around to let them feel comfortable landing. They flew off somewhat sinisterly, in a banking mass and headed inland.
Shoes are the other things which litter the shore. Some are broken, but others look perfectly fine, if only you could locate the pair. How do people lose so many shoes?
What does come as a refreshing surprise is to spot something natural among the flotsam. The occasional small stalk of seaweed or a leaf! But little else appears. We did come across three children digging in the wet sand the waves were washing. The youngest, a boy, was carrying a small plastic bowl with a little seawater in it and about two dozen small purple bivalves. Just past where they were digging I found one laying on the sand. As you can see, they are very small and I imagine they would need to keep at their work for sometime to have enough for a meal. The boy was looking forward to eating them. He did tell me the name, but Google has failed to help me identify them. Any ideas?
We left them to it and finished our walk, but with the exception of this small shell, once again I had finished my walk with empty pockets.