Sunday, 29 March 2015

29th of March: Strong winds and heavy rain

This afternoon was far from a fair spring day. With strong winds and heavy showers sweeping across Blakeney Point. You could imagine the look-out tower blowing off the top of the Lifeboat House. Had the rotting wood not been replaced two years ago, then this may well have happened!
 Blakeney Point this afternoon

Although still a bit miserable, thankfully conditions weren’t so bad during yesterday’s beach clean. A big thank you to all who came along to help. It was nice to see some new faces. The litter on the beach was not as bad as it has been in previous years, but we still managed to collect 15 large bags full, 25 containers, 2 fish-boxes, a fishing rod and a flipper… and the obligatory tennis ball – there’s always a tennis ball! No pants this year, though!
A morning’s work

Blakeney Point is now nicely tidy, ready for the start of the season. However, unfortunately the toilets will not be ready. The leaking water pipe is going to take a little while to be replaced. For the time being, the toilets on the Point are closed. We will keep you updated with the progress of the pipe repairs.
Toilets closed until further notice

In the meantime, we have stocked up on bottled water for the Lifeboat House:

The water pipe was put in during the 1970s. Bob Pinchen, the original Watcher (from 1901-1931), tells of how they got water in the early days (from his 1935 book ‘Sea Swallows’):

“For a good many years fresh water was carried down to us in small tubs, jars or bottles, and with the coming of visitors came a difficult problem. I well remember that when students from the University College […] were visiting the Point that we had only one large tank for catching rain-water.

After a few years it was decided to build a laboratory on the Point, and Professor W. Oliver of London University suggested to me that we might endeavour to find a supply of water somewhere. I told him that would not be much trouble and that if he walked up Pinchen’s Creek on the hottest day in summer, at a certain place he could see water spouting up. It is very cold at this particular spot even when other parts of the Creek are quite warm. I advised him to have a try in Glaux Low close to where it was decided to build a laboratory. Several attempts to obtain water were made and the idea of sinking a pump was soon given up as this became choked. An empty tar-barrel was also tried, all to no purpose. I suggested that a carpenter should make a square wooden structure without a bottom so that one could get inside, dig down, and then let it drain. This was done and, after going down a matter of four to five feet, the water welled up and filled the inside.

Since then a plentiful supply of fresh water has been available, and what seemed an insuperable difficulty has been overcome.
Bob Pinchen in the 1920s

After this we used our handcart to convey water, in any form of vessel available, to the Lifeboat House some distance away. Talking the matter over with the Professor I suggested that, as water was to be had at one spot, they ought to be able to get a supply close to the House. He agreed, and the next day some of his young men were set to work. They drove in four posts and dug down a few feet. Finding water, they boarded up the sides and thus solved another problem, for an ample supply of water at this place also has been forthcoming. Four more wells close by have since been opened.

During the war soldiers were stationed on the Point, and they did not trouble to keep the sand clear, with the result that the wells filled up. After the war, Professor Oliver had two large drainpipes sunk one on top of the other, a cover being fitted to the top with a lifting lid, into which a pail could be inserted. I have seen water running over the surface of the ground by the well, and in the driest summers we had water for all requirements. The surface of the water rose and fell with the tide, but the taste of it was unaffected. […] The one small well gives supplies for all purposes, for residents and visitors alike at Blakeney Point – no mean advantage, considering the former haphazard method of getting water and the difficulties of carting it such a long way.”

So maybe we should dig another well?!

In this rough weather, it is perhaps not surprising that no Sandwich Terns have arrived on the Point yet. One was reported flying out at sea past Cley on the 20th, but none have made it to the Point. This time in 2013 was far more extreme; our beach clean had to be cancelled due to strong winds and snow. That year, the first Sandwich Tern arrived on the 1st of April. It could well be around that date this year too. But a few migrants have dropped into the bushes over the weekend; a Chiffchaff in the Tamarisk yesterday and three Chaffinches in the brambles this morning. During the beach clean, the over-wintering flock of Shorelarks put in an appearance at their usual favourite spot on Beach Way.

In other news, a juvenile Goshawk has been captured on camera on Blakeney Freshes this week. Goshawks are seldom seen on the reserve as they are largely found in woodlands. It was a delight to find that one of our trail cameras had captured this up-close footage:
-          Ajay (Coastal Ranger)

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