The Baie de Mont Saint Michel is a strange place. As I noted elsewhere, for $20 or thereabouts you can get yourself hauled at low tide right out into the bay to inspect the habitat more closely. I have to say, it wasn’t what I was expecting.
You would have thought that what is, broadly speaking, a vast mudflat (well, sandy mudflat), would be stiff with wading birds. Not so - we saw a few oyster catchers, an egret and a heron. Most of the birds we saw were uninteresting gulls, hanging around there because of the other species that exploits that environment, humans.
[Photos cropped to remove close-ups of faces and, in one instance, for reasons of artistic pretension]
In the part of the bay where we were taken, there is a great deal of mussel farming. You would have thought that seabirds would be sitting atop the farmed mussels, scoffing away. Not so, but there are two species of crab which will eat them and are a problem. OK, so I was expecting mussel farms. I wasn’t expecting fish traps.
You need to click on the photo to get a better idea of how this works. There are continuous wooden hurdles on either side of a bottle trap, extending for perhaps 50 meters each side. The retreating tide gathers fish into the trap - which is pretty indiscriminate as to the size of fish caught. A hundred years ago you would have said, fine, hungry families need fish, and this is a matter of subsistence fishing. We watched our guide (and trap owner) pick out four dorade and then throw several kilos of undersized fish into the shallows, where gulls fought over them. Jesus.
There used to be 20 of these traps in the bay, now there are eight. The government rule is that a trap can be inherited but ownership may not be otherwise transferred so, given the hard work of maintenance required, they are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Personal view - it can’t happen too soon.
One of the oddities caused by the extreme flatness of this part of the bay - the tide retreats for miles - is that you can have very shallow water at high tide (I got the impression that there is very little tidal reach or variation.) Hence, odd little islands of samphire surprisingly far from “shore”.
Lastly, wading birds (slight return). This adds nothing material to the post (and I posted it in the Today In Nature thread as well). But damn, I like it so I’m going to post it again.