A River of Stones
Hot Sunday morning. The still air creaks with cracking, stuttered cries of a magpie on the fence.
The gravel path to Stanpit Marsh is bordered by hedges of bramble. A profusion of their pale mauve, open flowers invites the bees and promises a store of fruit for autumn. Among the prickled brambles grow wild mallow, teasel, nettle and wild bryony.
White trumpets of bindweed follow the afternoon sun.
Down on the wetlands, Marsh Ragwort glows yellow, its flower clusters looser than the common ragwort of field and hedgerow.
On the surface of a salt pan, the mud is spiked with tiny breathing holes from invertebrates who live beneath the surface. The marsh is scattered with salt pans, where long billed birds can dig into the mud and feast.
There is a new information centre at the entrance to the Marsh. A blackboard details sightings of the latest birds and plants. Last week, an osprey was seen on two consecutive days, to great excitement.
Behind the centre is a freshwater wildlife pond, bordered by trees and long grass. A pile of rotting logs makes a home for insects that feed visiting birds.
Beside the pond, in a boggy patch of ground, the frilled petals of a Ragged Robin, growing through the grass.