So often when walking along paths beside the River Crouch, I look ahead and I look up. Now and again I look down to avoid stepping on dog’s pooh! These paths are very popular with dog lovers because there are no restrictions. Most owners are responsible and take heed to control their pets, but a few allow them to run free. Many a time I’ve had dogs bounding towards me without their owners taking a great deal of notice. Two or three times dogs have jumped up to place their paws on me, in the hope they will get a friendly greeting.
I like looking at dogs because they come in all shapes and sizes, but that’s as far as it goes. In fact, dogs, as far as I am concerned cannot be trusted. Dog owners will be tut-tutting (barking-mad) here, but if you’ve been bitten by one as I have - twice, you may see it from a different viewpoint. There may be exceptions with well-trained dogs controlled by their owners, but there’s never a year passes without a child is mauled by a dog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having dogs as pets, and I’m all for them being used to help blind people and wherever they can be of assistance, such as with the emergency services. Owners can get great satisfaction from training their dogs, loving them and caring for them. A dog can be a comfort to an elderly person, especially if he is isolated and lives alone. There is the well-known saying, ‘A dog is man’s best friend.’ I am aware of how faithful and how knowing they can be. They are intelligent animals.
After this rambling about the canine species and the relationship between them and us (me), I’ll get to the point: Looking down is something that should be done more often. Sometimes our heads are so high in the sky we miss treasures at ground level. Perspective down there is entirely different. One enters a domain that is not often frequented. The lower region is populated with insects, beetles, slugs and snails. These creatures depend upon their immediate environment for sustenance and shelter. At the path’s edge there are a multitude of plants that are ideally suited to sustaining the myriad of insects and animals that inhabit them. These creatures crawl on them, eat them, lay their eggs on them, shelter in them, live and die in them. Spiders weave their webs for trapping flies, moths, butterflies and the odd bee now and again. I’ve seen lizards there and adders too, as well as slowworms.
The tapestry and variety of plant growth at the river’s side is amazing, sometimes beautiful. I’m not an expert at identifying them, but I do know of more common types like bramble, hawthorn, alder, ash, thistle, celandine and daisy. My photos illustrate some of the plants to be seen in the locality of South Fambridge, including a delicate lichen-type growth that clings to the surface of the concrete path.
Wildlife Trust - Estuaries