It’s a regular haunt of mine, Eye Bridge. It crosses the River Stour near Pamphill; in fact it is one of very few footbridges that cross this river. But it’s not really about the bridge which is a wood and metal affair, a somewhat functional thing, it’s about the location, for this is a beautiful spot. With flat grassy banks and the gentle sound of water tumbling over the weir a short way down stream, it is an almost idyllic place to sit, a haven from the busyness of life.
Come here in summer and you will find that it is a playground with kayakers, dog walkers, picnickers, and swimmers, especially children who jump in off the bridge at the one point where the river is deep enough to allow this. Not that this is necessarily a safe place to swim! Oh, there are no crocs, alligators, nor piranhas, but, along with most of our rivers, there is pollution. It isn’t noticeable but accidentally swallow a mouthful of water and you might just wish you hadn’t!
But it is out of the summer season that I like to visit because then it becomes more of a playground for wildlife. Oh, there will still be dog walkers, the odd fisherman, or even someone sitting on the grass beside the gently flowing water reading a book. The wildlife doesn’t seem to mind these slight intrusions into their world. I often stop to sit on a rock with my binoculars in hand and just wait, and I am rarely disappointed.
A streak of blue skims the top of the water, a kingfisher crossing to another favourite fishing spot. He sits and waits just like me, and then in a flash dives and rises again, hardly disturbing the water, with a fish in his beak. He regains his perch and in one swallow, the fish is gone! The kingfisher is the most beautiful of birds and I love to watch them. A little egret treads the water’s edge with a fixed downward stare, and in a flash, his head dips and comes up again also with a fish. They do this seemingly continuously, and I wonder how between them, there are still enough fish to go round. These awesome fishing machines are not always successful though; one comes up with a fish that is a bit too big for it and try as he might to juggle it, it escapes to swim another day.
The heron is ever present, and on this stretch of water, so are the goosanders. With their serrated beaks, these diving ducks also feed on little fish, and they too disappear and reappear constantly, playing a now you see me, now you don’t game as they dine! I’ve been watching these all through the year because this river is one of their few southern year-round haunts. They are mostly farther north.
Of course, these are not the only creatures here, there is a myriad other species all along this river and on the meadows that surround it. Most may be quite common but that never bothers me, I am as happy watching a ‘common or garden’ robin as I am spotting a rare great crested lesser spotted seen-once-in-a-lifetime bird. I just love wildlife!
I just pray that the powers that be wake up to the fact that we are in danger of losing half our species before it gets too late. I really want my grandson to be able to visit Eye Bridge when he is my age and still be able to enjoy the same wildlife!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoy exploring with me.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@– comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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