This morning I popped in to my parents house and found my uncle, a priest of the Salesian order, was visiting from Dublin. Michael actually spent most of his working life in Brazil in various parishes which often demanded that he travel upriver to visit his parishioners. He was finally called back to Dublin a couple of years ago.
It must have been hard for him to leave the Amazon. I imagine him paddling up the brown river in the baking sun or making his way through the jungle, light dappling, the sounds of exotic creatures all around. To come back to grey recession Dublin must have been tough. I imagine his dreams are still jungly but they go where they are called. He has lived a simple life in much poverty and he always seems to be in good humour.
On a previous visit home he had a video he was going to show my Mother. He said it was a video of a leprechaun. As a credulous person -at least everyone says I am and I believe them-I was fascinated. In general I believe everything I am told. I find it makes life interesting.
So I settled in for a look at this long and quite boring video of him at a hospital shaking hands with people waiting for the appearance of what he took to be a leprechaun. It took me a while to realise that I had mis-heard(yet again) and it was actually a video of a Leper Colony. I had to stay then, for the whole film so as not to hurt his feelings.
I headed out then for a run on Tramore Beach my first in three weeks since I was floored by the Worst Cold in the World over Christmas. Probably wasn’t the best idea to run all the way around the dunes and back as I was still feeling a little seedy. Still it was a lovely run.
It was a colder than previous days and overcast but around the dunes is lovely in any weather. It’s like a different country down there. Brownstown and Westown take on an entirely different shape and the wind seems to die. The expanse of sand is ribbed with silvery pools of water and stitched by sanderlings and oystercatchers.
It may sound weird to have a favourite wader but mine is the oystercatcher maybe because it’s the first bird I could easily identify as a child. You will see them along the beach, their red beaks poking at the sand. They take off as you approach, their sharp black and white wings whirring. Once I read in a novel of medieval fishermen using oystercatchers’ beaks as coats fasteners, like toggles on a duffle coat. I don’t know if this is true but it’s sounds like a practical use for a beak.
Rounding the Baldy Man-the biggest dune of the group-I saw a gull helter skeltering after a oystercatcher over the Back Strand and though I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot(with the camera)I did get a shot of some geese. These are Brent Geese I think, but I’m really going to have to bone up on my bird ID skills.
The Back Strand sees a lot of winter visitors like these as well as the usual crew of waders and gulls. I have seen whimbrels, curlews, a grey heron, peewits(or lapwing) among others down here. How lucky we are to have such a place nearby. If you’re from around here or if you’re ever visiting make sure to check it out. And bring your camera.