• Overstrand Life

Sunday 4th September 2022 - According to Plan and Avian Flu

Our plans to eat fish and chips on Bacton beach, when our family were with us, may not have come to fruition but our return to Bacton on Wednesday went in our favour. It was a somewhat blustery day but that didn’t stop us driving, early evening, to the fish and chip shop in Bacton, purchasing cod and chips and then parking in Cable Gap car park and sitting to eat, on the flat area above the beach. They are so generous with their chips we had more than enough and shared the remaining ones with the local gull population who were very appreciative of some unexpected treats. We were surprised to see how deserted the beach was, just a few people walking their dogs and further along the beach a couple of people in the sea. One of today’s photos is the view from the spot where we sat and shows the great swathes of sand, some of which was introduced as part of the Sandscaping Project to protect the Bacton Gas Terminal.

A few weeks ago we spotted a dead gannet on the beach below the promenade. I contacted one of our village wildlife enthusiasts who suggested it may have been the victim of avian flu and provided me with a link to the page on the RSPB’s website . This gives, amongst other details, information as to what the public should do if they see dead birds, no matter what their type or species. This morning we saw two dead gannets in a state of decomposition on the west beach and later, on the social media group Next Door, it was reported five more had been seen on the east beach at Sidestrand. With the boxes of free range eggs no longer bearing stickers, explaining that during the avian flu epidemic chickens would be kept under cover, I thought the outbreak had subsided but seeing and hearing about the dead gannets, proves the virus is still around. Reading more online about gannets; they have suffered huge losses with a considerable percentage of their population wiped out. On the Natural History Museums website there are a couple of photos taken above Bass Rock, an island in the Firth of Forth, showing the reduction of gannet numbers between April 2021 and June 2022. This is in no way disrespectful to those who have lost a family member or friend to Covid 19, or living with its after effects but it is not just the human race, that suffer pandemics and epidemics, it is the bird world too. Apologies to anyone who finds the photograph, of one of the dead gannets, upsetting but I felt it should be included as a record.