To maintain a balance, and prevent everything spiralling into chaos in our crazy bonkers cosmos, some aspects of life have to remain constant. Examples of this are; Portsmouth FC is and always will be a great football club, Nicolas Cage can't act, Les Miserables has no music in it and for as long as Southsea Castle stands, purple sandpipers will be it's winter guardians.
We spend a lot of our mooching time, visiting places, just looking to see what might turn up. Good fun, sometimes very rewarding, sometimes not. At the weekend we were in need of a 'constant' and not wanting to endure a Miserable Cage special. We found ourselves at Southsea Castle, and sure as eggs are oeufs there they were, the world in balance - thirteen in total.
Although built during Henry VIII's reign to protect Portsmouth from foreign invaders, the only force to have ever breached the walls was a home-grown Parliamentarian army (the sandpipers must have been away that day). The castle would have been a great vantage point to witness both the sinking and more happily the raising of the Mary Rose. Today, it still stands strong a reminder of our martime past. A pathway and seawall are divided by railings on the seaward side of the castle. As long we remained on the pathway and not climb over the rails, the birds were quite happy to maintain guard of The Solent and go about their sandpipery business.
Orange juice stains on the base of the bill and legs offers the only contrast in colour with the dull hues of the rest of their plumage. More dark grey than purple, they are perfectly dressed for blending with the dark rocks of the sea defences. They busily fed in the area where the waves were breaking, as the wave receded they dashed onto the dampened rocks, probing the crooks and nannies for crustaceans. Occasionally they would be so intent on feeding they would miss the next wave and become swamped by it. This is what they have done for forever, but when they are caught by a wave they still sport an expression that says 'well I never knew they did that'.
Soon the sandpipers will have finished their winter vigil and will be off on their migrations to the Tundra for the summer. But today, bloody hell, it was freezing. A biting easterly ripped through The Solent and through our coats. Time for our own migration back home to some central heating and to watch the sorcerer's apprentice - not really....
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