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Marina Magic

Debra Williams

9th Feb:
Coming home from time spent in nature on the allotment, returning to the grey urban jungle, I feel disconnected again. Even given the attractive human-made environment of the marina – the yachts and canal boats, calm water and stillness, the Mersey lapping softly against the Prom on the other side – it is still a shock to the system after all the greenery and birdsong. Yet, I glance down to the boardwalk, as I always do – just in case – and am thrilled to see a small azure shape perched there, surveying the murky water for sticklebacks. Suddenly, she dives and quickly emerges with a silvery shape in her long black beak – the lower mandible shades to red, which signals her gender. When she flies, the electric blue stripe running down her back is exposed, adding another splash of colour to this beautiful small bird.

10th Feb: I am surprised to see one of the mute swan pair take off and head out over the Mersey before circling around and landing back in the marina, some way off from its mate, who fluffs out its wings and hastens towards it. I don’t think I have ever seen these two huge birds fly! They are usually just swimming serenely around the marina and adjacent waterways, or feeding, heads down in the water, or chasing interlopers (or their own young) off their patch. And they are always together.

12th Feb: The kingfisher is here early this morning; a long shadow is cast behind her by the low morning sun. Her orange feet and legs match her feathery orange belly, and all contrast nicely with her gorgeous azure head and back. Her white cheek patches shine even from a distance.
A long sleek black shape speeds like a torpedo into the shallow waters – a cormorant! When it emerges, it shakes its head, floats on the surface for a moment and then dives again. It re-emerges quite a way away from where it went down, powering through the water. When they stand on the land to dry out, for their feathers are not waterproof, they echo the pose of our Liver Birds, and look vaguely prehistoric.

13th Feb: There is no true darkness at the marina – or anywhere in suburbia. Streetlights, house lights, boat lights, all illuminate the night, disturbing humans and animals alike. Yet some benefit: the grey heron is here, stalking along the harsh concreate at the water’s edge to find the best spot to fish, then standing still, hunched, poised, waiting. It wades a little way out, stops again, then pulls back its neck and strikes with lightning speed. Whatever it caught is quickly swallowed and the process starts again.

14th Feb: The sun is shining brightly, its light reflecting dazzlingly on the Mersey Estuary and streaming into my window – providing a welcome bit of mid-afternoon warmth. In front of me, the colours of the yachts and canal boats anchored in the marina sparkle. The mute swan pair drift serenely past, the herring gull pair wade at the water’s edge, searching for cockles which they will then fly up with and drop, to split them open and access the meat inside. The crows here do that, too. Which species was the teacher and which the pupil?

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