On another glorious sunny day, Learn To Sea was honoured to be part of the last celebratory day of a 3 year project running with BTCV (British Trust Conservation Volunteers). This project was a youth group based conservation project from Exeter.
We had an amazing start to the day - we met at the source of the estuary on the Avon. They were a band of enthusiastic volunteers. It's always good to greet a group that have bonded over time. In the van - the music was blaring with some "interesting" singing in the van and best of all Alvin had brought some chocolate brownies that he had made early that morning and that was the first offering of the day - BRILLIANT!
So we started off where all walks should "talking poo" to put it politely. We were parked just beside the sewage treatment works and a pig pen homing some lovely juicy, happy pigs! Strangely enough there was no aroma... just sleeping pigs in their pen, exhausted from their morning of eating! We talked about the catchment and water run off, sewage related debris and water quality - which is so important for this estuary - home to the "Bigbury Bay Oysters". Which I knew we might be tasting later!
As we walked down the estuary - my favourite of all in the UK. We were greeted by egrets ( invasive but beautiful) and sheldrake and other avian treats. As we were walking down the tidal road we came across a crab moulting which was a good opportunity to talk about their amazing ability to moult their shells in order to grow. But lunch was calling and what a lunch - as it was the last of the year, the group were treated to a 3 course meal at the Oyster Shack. We had delicious oysters "pic-n-mix" and I had mussels too. It was great to know they were grown and produced and depurated so locally. In fact Richard ( the oyster owner) was lopping branches off in his garden as we walked past! And I was able to point out the depuration tanks en route to the restaurant as well.
Many of the group had never shucked, eaten or digested an oyster - but they all tried and all liked! Nobody was ill - it is not that common to be ill from well kept, well depurated (cleaned in running water for 42 hours) oysters. It was fantastic to see so many enjoy what is an overlooked and under rated delicacy from our local waters.
We then trotted off with full bellies for the next part of the adventure back upstream to move on to my rockpool beach. Which obviously isn't mine - it's for everybody to enjoy!
The rockpooling was very cool! But not so cool that we were bothered when some of our feet got wet!! It was a brilliant spring low tide so we had a huge area of intertidal rocks to explore. With time and tide waiting for no man we headed down to the lowest point of the tide. We were rewarded with some amazing sights of clingfish, devil crab, montagu crab, cushion star, brittle starfish, carnivorous dog whelks and some irredescent, illuminated looking Peacock Weed - my favourite! It goes dull when taken out of the water - like so much of our marine creatures their colour and vibrancy is nothing out of the water only special when left in situ.
It was, I have to say, probably my best day yet. It was a lovely crowd, a lovely home grown meal and a fantastic low spring tide.
I feel so very lucky to live where I do and it is such an honour to be able to share it woth other people - it makes it even more special! Thanks BTCV for the brownies, laughter and being such a great crew!