TOP TIPS FOR THE FORESHORE
With the foreshore in full bloom and the promise of some long-awaited sport, 1 September can’t come soon enough for Alan, but not all aspects of those early-season days are anticipated in equal measure...
No matter how many seasons have passed, each 1 September is looked forward to with relish. In fact, in many ways, the more seasons that pass by, the more the anticipation grows, for there is a degree of certainty about what lies ahead.
There are a number of certainties about September, not all of which are looked forward to with pleasant anticipation! It will be hot – it is often among the most reliably hot months of the year – and that is the root cause of so much difficulty and unpleasantness.
With the heat comes flies to pester you, and any birds you happen to shoot. A long day on the marsh can sometimes even lead to birds starting to turn green, especially if they happen to be gut-shot. Whichever the case, they must be prepared for the freezer or oven without delay, for there is none of the late-season luxury of being able to prepare birds at your leisure.
If a long walk is entailed the warm weather brings with it obvious problems of insufficient water for both wildfowler and dog. On such days the dog can opt for drinking from the tide, and it seems even with the offer of fresh water they will often do so. Mine has an infuriating habit of gulping saltwater as she swims! This, in turn, has inevitable consequences, leaving you to hope that any resultant sickness is done on the marsh rather than in the back of the car on the way home!
For those long walks travelling light is essential, but always remember that after dark it is likely to turn much colder. The major problem with travelling light, particularly at dusk, is the inevitable attacks from mosquitoes; some people seem more prone to this than others – suffice to say that mosquitoes love me! My jungle-strength repellent will work well, but if you miss an inch of skin the brutes will find it!
But there are plenty of delights, too: no need for gloves or muffler, or all the other accoutrements that are needed for a winter’s day on the shore; less need for hot drinks or copious quantities of food to refuel a cold and weary body.
Then there is the shore itself. In September it will be a colourful and fragrant place where the salt marsh plants are in flower and, in the case of marsh samphire, at their most succulent best. It is a pure delight to gaze across the salt marsh tops to see the blossoming sea aster and the more subtle presence of sea lavender.
After six months of anticipation, bleary-eyed wildfowlers, with eager dogs in tow, will make their way down to the foreshore in the early hours of 1 September to fire the first shots of the duck and goose season.