Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - battling nature

Where I live, there are lots of migratory seabirds who visit to nest. Usually during summer, a large strip of the beach/ river /dunes area may get fenced off so that people (and their dogs that are supposed to be controlled) leave the nest sites alone. They fence off quite a large area around the nests so that when the chicks hatch, there's an exclusion zone as it takes them some weeks to be able to fly.

During the nesting season, volunteers check the nests daily and monitor the sites. Over summer they had to build up the area around the nests to prevent flooding when the high tide and floodwaters threatened. It takes a lot of work - and is often rewarded by dogs or foxes eating the eggs/ chicks, people vandalising the nests, storms flooding the nest, etc etc. Although some years, chicks do successfully survive.

After 25 years of this sandbar not being washed out (it's at an old river mouth, so where once the river spilled into the ocean, now it's sanded up unless there's flood waters in the river), for the last 3 or 4 years, the old river mouth has opened three times (for up to eight months), which floods the area where the seabirds had been nesting, and effectively cuts our beach into two sections.

In the top photo, this is the sanded up area of the beach between the ocean and the river. It's maybe 60 m from the dunes on our side, to the dunes on the other side, and there's probably 40m between the ocean and the river at high tide.

In the second photo, I've done a panorama stitching 3 shots together, to show the opening of the heads (the old river mouth). On the left is 'our side' of the beach. The right is the area shown in the top photo - but where the river has broken out to the sea, washing away and flooding the old sandbar. In the background of the righthand side, that's the 'other side' of the beach, that is now inaccessible (unless you swim across).

It's quite spectacular when nature battles. I love watching the changes to the beach and the river due to this flooding - even if the dune erosion is quite dramatic.

Nature is always a battle. It's constantly changing, testing and challenging. Whether you're a bird trying to breed, a dune plant trying to grow, or a sand castle looking for permanency, the battle constantly rages. And Mother Nature rarely loses.

Do you have any great nature battles?

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