Helios and Selene Delight | by Blair Charles Jones

I like the golden hours at Goldcliff Lagoon Reserve around sunrise and sunset. Not only is the light often amazing – and a challenge to work with, often there’s more bird life around to watch. But lately this very much depends on the tides. In recent months the behaviour of the birds has become intrinsically linked to the ebb and flow of the estuary’s water.

Timing of my visits has therefore been important and getting that right has been challenging. Certain important things like work, illness and family get in the way, so often my visits have been at odds with the high tide and I have had to make do with low tide visits and in the evenings. This however has given me the opportunity to indulge in some different styles of photography such as sunsets, moon shots and birds flying in to roost.

This evening all three were going to collide together with a fourth factor – a very high tide.

I finished work and made my way to the lagoons, lots of fellow birders had already been to the lagoons after a great spot by a good regular birder who had seen a rare Bairds Sandpiper that had somehow got lost here all the way from North America. A sighting of one of these species would be a lifer for me and a bonus but it was not my real target for photography.

The weather was perfect with clear skies on arrival and it looked like it would be settled for the night.

As sunset approached, I stood on the seawall and watched it in awe. You can’t help but feel moved by natures magnificence and I thought how beautiful the world is – even Newport. I watched a ship taking advantage of the high water steaming out of the docks and it was back lit by the sun. It looked like something more akin to a view from somewhere faraway and fanciful than South Wales.

The tide was marching in and both waders and waterfowl could be seen at the water’s edges, frantically feeding as the incoming Severn estuaries waters enveloped the mud. There must have been hundreds of Oystercatchers, Curlew and Black Tailed Godwits out there.

I could sense the rhythms of life changing. The sun began to set and turned the sky an awesome orange colour. It was ablaze with colour. Waders took to the air and began to swirl across the estuary in flocks and suddenly as it got dark, I started to get the pictures I had waited patiently for. Flocks of birds circling to roost against a backdrop of sunny orange. I then looked over my shoulder just as another heavenly body began to enter the scene.

Myth and legends surround the Moon and the Suns relationships in many cultures with different takes on the relationships and the tales of those involved. You can understand why these astral objects invoke such passion of feeling and stir the imagination.

It made me recall my childhood Greek Classic lessons and remember the tale of Helios and Selene who were said to rule the day and night.

I stood on the seawall and watched entranced as these titanic siblings rode their chariots of light chasing each other for eternity across the skies of Goldcliff.

Helios “The Sun” had put on a fantastic show and now his fires began to fade as he descended from the heavens casting the last of his rays towards his sister’s face.

Selene – “The Moon”, began to rise and basked in the last of her brothers’ rays. She glowed a fiery orange reflecting her brothers light as she rose higher into the sky. As Selene pursued her descending brother in vain across, the darkening sky, it was now illuminated by a mix of bright moonbeams, twinkling stars and the smouldering embers of the setting sun. The two Gods briefly shared the heavens in a magical fusion of colours. Then the moment was gone. Helios departed, taking the last of the daylight with him and Selene now reigned high in the night sky. As an eerie cooling mist rolled in across the moon lit lagoons and misted my lenses up it was my cue to pack up my camera equipment and leave.

As I departed with a smile on my face from the reserve, I reflected. Witnessing natures spectacle was special. It had given me a great feeling both in body and spirit, Helios had warmed my heart and Selene had calmed my soul, just what I needed after a long week in work.

Goldcliff Lagoons never fails to delight the senses, what a fantastic reserve, may it stay safe from the threat of road development and for those of us lucky to visit it, cherish the experiences forever.

About the Entry

Blair Charles Jones

Ever since my parents bought me a bird book and a pair of binoculars as a child, it kindled a lifelong love of birds and wildlife. My love for wildlife led me to studying Biology at University. Then my life changed direction, a career in Law Enforcement and family took me in a different direction for a while . About ten years ago I purchased my first DSLR camera and I found I could not just watch wildlife but I could share my experiences with others. Writing blog posts puts my pictures in a greater context and I hope my stories inspire in others a similar passion for watching wildlife.

  • Site name | The Wildlife Oculus
  • Site URLwww.thewildlifeoculus.com
  • Twitter | @wildlifeoculus
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  • Why should someone visit your site? The Wildlife Oculus is written to demonstrate my passion and love for watching local wildlife and to capture photographically nature at its best.
  • Entry TitleHelios and Selene Delight
  • Entry Number | 72

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