Challenging Habitat Blog

10 miles on the Tamar estuary with my paddle board…

…a great way of spending a sunny spring Sunday!

Lots to see, including otter footprints in the mud, the ochreous outflow of a mine adit and the overgrown scenery of the upper reaches.

Strictly socially distanced by length of paddles and exercise on the water can be a very enjoyable event.

It’s almost a mini-adventure!

It’s good for my spirit to be near (or on) the sea.

The horizon, the sound, the smell and the breeze!

…and things to discover…

Another beautiful hour on the river…

…I never grow tired of paddling and drifting.

I am fascinated by the eery beauty of the shore’s reflections in the mirror of the water.

Horizontal symmetry.

Rocks and branches disappear into the image.

And I see different things every time.

Living by the banks of the Tamar estuary is a privilege I am immensely grateful for.

During lockdown, while working part-time from home, it allows me to nip out and spend an hour or two on the water around high tide.

It’s beautiful and calming.

It eases the eye fatigue that relentless online work inflicts on me.

Quietly paddling along, an egret gracefully crossed the river in front of me, brilliant white in the bright sun.

It is good to see that the public is reminded of the importance of small freshwater bodies for biodiversity by the Helen Briggs at the BBC:

Having created a wildlife pond in my own garden this summer, I have been astonished by the arrival of invertebrates, mollusks and birds within the first few weeks and months of its existence and the colonisation of pond margins with a variety of mosses, ferns and wild flowers.

Pond beetles whirling in my wildlife pond, November 2020

If you have a little space, I’d strongly encourage you to introduce water into your garden – a tiny space a couple of metres across will add a beautiful dimension to the experience of your space and it will support wildlife, such as newts and birds. It can be such a pleasure to watch evolve, get kids involved and learning as your wildlife pond matures…

I also sincerely hope that the protection of water courses on farmland and common land will be high on the agenda in coming years.

The ripples on the surface of my wildlife pond are created by small silver water beetles crazily whirling around in large groups.

They never seem to stop, just keep going.

The sea!


Always different.

Always awesome.

Drawn to it.

Even on a grey November morning being on the water is wonderfully good for my soul.

The last mist is lifting over the still water and faint song of birds is all around.

Leaves have changed colour and fallen since I’ve last been here, only beech and oak are holding on.

The reeds lost their gold.

A flash of electric blue and green across the water and into the reeds. It lights up my face with a big smile – to see a kingfisher is pure happiness!

A new dawn (perhaps in more than just the literal sense).

I begin the second nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown with an early morning paddle on the Tamar estuary.

It’s beautiful.

Thick mist is drifting down the valley, I hear a barn owl and watch the aerobatics of a murmuration of starlings over the reeds.

Two egrets alight.

The sun, still hidden behind the hills and fog, illuminates the moon high in the sky.

And eventually the blue of the day wins over the dark.

I’d like to take this as a sign of hope in the US presidential election…but on the morning of the 5 Nov 2020, that jury is still out.

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