Surf Bay

Six ducks waddle along the flat, wet part of the sand. They seem to giggle and chat to each other, no doubt bemoaning the winds which have returned to the islands. As they approach the water the waves crash around them. Out at sea a huddle of ducks surf the waves. Meanwhile, on the beach, a large, rocklike creature moves his flipper. He doesn’t open his eyes, he just rolls back into place on the sand, asleep, perhaps, or feigning it. The large gash across his face creates a permanent, deceptive smile. This is the most fearless and ferocious seal on the islands. A leopard seal can rip a child’s leg off.

Wandering down the beach is a small group, possibly cruise ship daytrippers. An older man strides forward and points his camera. He’s so close that it could reach him in a single lumbering bound. People don’t realise how fast they can move. Part of me wants to shout, to warn them, and the other steps back with almost curious detachment.

The wind is stronger now. The occasional gust lifts sand to rasp my face. I wrap a scarf around my face and turn, putting the wind at my back. At this end of the beach an Oyster catcher is dancing in hope of a mate. He is watched with disdain by a small group of seagulls, bickering occasionally amongst themselves. There are several different types of seagull wandering on the beach and occasionally fighting. One of them jumps onto a lump of seaweed which has hardened in the sun. He looks like he is addressing the flock. He certainly makes enough noise and flapping his large wings he seems to attract attention. Slowly a rival approaches him from the rear and then with a quick flick of his beak knocks the first bird off his perch. As I walk towards them, the birds spread their wings and lift from sand to sky. Seconds after I pass they will settle to carry on with their chattering, pecking and squaking.

I start to walk to the car and take one last look out to sea and notice a dark shape in the water. The dolphins are back! A warm glow spreads through me and I start to smile. I don’t know why, but I think of a Dolphin sighting as a positive omen. They live here all the time, but though I walk every day I often catch no sign of them. Today they are hunting for food in the kelp close to the shore. Perhaps yesterday’s storm has shifted something. I forget the cold as I watch them. A wave builds and, for just a moment, I see them as clearly as if I was looking into a fish tank. Several dolphins are swimming with the wave, straight towards me. It all happens too quickly for me to get the camera ready. No one will believe this without a photo. As soon as the surf crashes the image is gone.

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