Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cloud Cuckooland

After an eventful day bird surveying on the Lincolnshire coast I was heading back to the van when I came across this fabulous creation.  Whatever could it be?  Modern art?  Alien landing station?  Well the noticeboard revealed that it was a 'Cloud Bar', and that it was "the only purpose-built cloud bar in Britain" (you don't say!).  The board displayed pictures of clouds and their names, and invited anyone devoid of anything more meaningful to do to spot and identify clouds!
Alien artwork?
 The mirrors on sticks were to 'bring the clouds down to earth', but there were no instructions and despite much twiddling and rotating I failed to achieve this momentous outcome.  I looked around the sky and spied a cloud, the board seemed to suggest it was a 'cirro-stratus' so that was one in the bag.  The board also said that 'sometimes there are more than one type of cloud in the sky at once', but I was wary of having too much fun in one day and wondered whether to push my luck and look for another.  Throwing caution to the wind I looked heavenwards again but found only some aeroplane contrails, though these were undeniably more interesting than the cloud.
The one barely there cloud, a thrilling sight.
 That just left the giant concrete pastry-cutters, what the hell were they for?  They turned out to be proper cloud-spotter's seats apparently, information that just demanded a trial.  Once on I decided that I had never sat on anything more uncomfortable and awkward in my life, it was a struggle to just stay on never mind admire clouds!
Jeez, I hope something interesting happens soon, I can't hold on much longer!
 I wondered how much the council had paid for this creation.  The 'mirrors' were pitted and opaque from being sand-blasted by the elements, the 'seats' were unsittable on, and there was never likely to be a queue forming to have a go.  Still I expect the locals were delighted to have the only one in Britain, despite the beach road being in dire need of resurfacing. 
I could not imagine that cloud-spotting was going to overtake birdwatching as a popular hobby anytime soon, not after seeing more cuckoos that morning than I could shake a meadow pipit at.  I had seen three in total, with the last one giving some great close up views.  At first it had flown in to land in marram grass on the beach ahead of me.  It flushed when I was almost upon it, about eight feet away.  It hurtled into some sea buckthorn, and then into the hawthorn in the photo where it called for ages, while harassed by small birds.  Which one would be parasitised?  The commonest passerine here is whitethroat, not the most regular cuckoo foster parent.  Others include sedge warbler, dunnocks, and a few meadow pipits among the contenders.  Incidentally I have no idea what it was doing in the marram, I could see nothing where it had been when I looked.  I'll ruminate on the possibilities next time I'm lying around looking at the clouds.
A cuckoo, more clout than a cloud!

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