Spring Tides at Crofty

Friday, July 24, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


A quick check of the tide tables this evening revealed that spring tides were once again upon us with a 9.1m high expected. The first time that I discovered the effect of the high tides on the north Gower coastline was when I tried driving down a small road to find it cut off by the incoming sea. Coming from the Midlands this was something that I was not very used to. Floods yes, but not the sea itself. On a number of occasions I have stopped at Penclawdd to watch the incoming tide but this time I fancied something a bit more remote, so headed round to the west of Crofty and one of two old cockle picking tracks that provide a slightly raised walkway out into the midst of the marsh.

I arrived slightly early with the intention of watching the rising waters push the numerous bird flocks towards me in the hope of picking up a few rarities that I know to frequent the area. I wasn't to be disappointed as a nearby flock of Gulls steadily grew in size until it numbered over a thousand individuals. Before getting interested in birds I would have looked at the gathering and simply put them down as 'Gulls'. Now though I know better and got my telescope out for a good scan. The flock was mainly made up of Black Headed Gulls, but mixed in were approximately thirty or so Common Gulls. This is a species that I have seen on numerous occasions up on the Isle of Mull (indeed it seems to be one of the most prevalent species up there) but sightings on Gower had so far eluded me. A bit more searching and I found an adult and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull showing off their plumage. When you include the Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls that were also present you have pretty much got all of the UK common Gull species in one place. Pretty amazing and it just goes to prove that it is worth checking out those flocks of gulls that you come across as you never know what you might find.

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Gull flock gathering ahead of the rising waters

The encroaching waters of the tide were as impressive as ever. I was sitting at the very end of the causeway and had a perfect vantage point as the waters slowly started to fill the surrounding channels. It is always surprising how fast the tide can approach and within an hour the grass before me had almost completely been submerged. Check out the comparison shots below to see how a landscape can change. The time difference between the two photos was only about forty minutes.

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I was very glad to have chosen some higher ground when I turned round to see the marsh behind me also completely submerged. I was of course aware of what was going on and had scoped out the area on a prior evening to ensure that I wasn't at any risk. However, it does go to show how potentially dangerous the sea can be.

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The thin strip of land back to safety

And on a final note, do check the depth of water before you drive your car into any floods. One person attempted to cross the submerged road near to where I had parked whilst I was watching. Needless to say they didn't get very far. To say she looked embarrassed is a bit of an understatement.

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