On the first full day of our autumn residency the beach is teeming with death. And life. Hundreds of predominantly red-brown jellyfish washing up, some a large as upturned mixing bowls, others the size of my fist. As I cross the estuary on the shoreline, knee-high in water, I negotiate my way around them because even though I reckon most of them are already dead I am taking no chances and don’t want to risk a sting.
Heading for Low Newton it is strange to see that the National Trust and RSPB rangers and volunteers have packed up the base camp now that the terns have left. Everything sounds different with the colony flown-away. Then, in front of me, a seal pup is making its way back to the sea from higher up the beach. To a city dweller not used to such sights it’s a wonderful moment. Even though I live by the sea myself and regularly witness a seal head or two coming up for air close to shore I’ve never, other than on the TV, seen one this close up.
I see the seal, the seal sees me. Then it carries on its way, flip-flopping over the sand. Once in the water we watch it struggle to clear the bank of small breakers: this is one hell of a climb for such a small creature. We wonder if it’s broken away from its social group and whether we have just witnessed its first solo outing. It swims back and forth for a while, picking the calmest place between the call of waves. And then it is gone.