It’s a beautiful day

wavesSaturday, 09 August 2008

Winter seems to have those special days that you just can’t explain the breathless beauty around you, and today was one of them, slowly jogging down the beach from Hermanus to Die Kelders. A stretch of 14 Km of flat sand as far as you can see. The ocean as calm as a pond, only the sound of a lazy wave as is just folds over and plops on the sand. Little Plough snails slowly flap their way though the wet sand foraging for bits dropped by the gulls and circle endlessly trying to locate sand mites and worms to prey on before the tide comes in and rearranges the landscape.

Staring aimlessly into the sea haze deep in thought I plodded. Occasionally a whale would attract my attention by doing a massive headstand and trash its tail from left to right and then disappear into the depths of the ocean with a brief blow of spray as it exhaled and replenished its lungs with crisp cold wintry air. Ahead lay a massive shadow on the beach, at first it looked as if a cloud had blocked the sun and was casting a shadow, getting closer it now looked as if the sea had cut into the sand eroding a wall which was casting a shadow? Confused, I trundled on closer. Finally I managed to make out this strange phenomenon.

It was the biggest flock of seabirds I had ever seen. Not hundreds but thousands, all drying their wings in the morning sun. This group of cormorants was a couple of 100m long and a good 20m wide. I just could not believe that you could still find such large flocks of birds. But why were the here on the beach, this seemed so strange, as we got closer the birds began to run down the beach their legs picking up the water causing a mist of spray as they managed to get their wings into motion and hovered over the waves finally taking off, only to plop back into the water a couple of meters away as if they were too heavy to fly.

wavesThe birds just wallowed there looking at us as we moved past. Further down the beach amazingly another group as big as the first, this now really confused us. What were all these birds doing here and how do they survive? Finally, an answer. A silver bullet shape shot out of the wave, followed by another and so on it continued as the water turned into a cauldron with thousands upon thousands of fish seemingly being congested into this one wave. The further we ran the bigger the shoal of fish became; eventually we measured it to be about 1km in length. The seals had now joined in, swimming and punching holes in the mass of fish as they fed weaving in and out of the waves, bashing splinters of shimmering silver flapping fish into the air. Finally they too tired with their bellies full, rolling over onto their backs and grooming their flippers, they wallowed contently in the trough of the waves. All of nature seemed to be satisfied as the mass of fish writhed on in and out of the waves, moving down the coast.

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