From the top of the hill near where I live I can see the sea at Rossglass. There lives the biggest gathering of common seals in Northern Ireland.
image from Islay Natural Trust.
My son and I were out for a cycle on Wednesday morning.
I live two miles from the local Rossglass beach. It suits me fine to go for a cycle locally as the roads do not have steep inclines. The journey takes in some fabulous scenery and coastline along the way.
As I cycle along the road there is a stillness in the air. I can hear the bees buzzing in the honeysuckle that is bursting out of the hedgerows.
My son is keen to advise which gears to use to tackle the hill ahead.
But I am enjoying what my eyes and ears are sensing. I am not in a hurry. I don’t have an appointment to keep. It is good to be outdoors on a warm summer’s morning in Ireland.
We have rich farmland here.
There are different crops are at different stages of growth.
Some farmers grow Maize for cattle fodder.
Potatoes are growing in one field with rows of purple flowers and lush green leaves.
Another field has rapeseed growing. It is ripe for harvest.
Another field is sown with barley. It will turn golden soon.
The fields are ripe for harvest.
All the farmer has to do is plant the seed and it multiplies in the ground producing a good income for the farmer.
He has faith. He is not fretting every day looking to see how his crop is growing. He trusts God who causes the seed to grow in the ground.
God has promised seed time and harvest.
As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22 NLT)
We can take courage from the farmer and sow good into people’s lives and it will produce a harvest in due course.
God is pleased when we bear fruit.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:5, 7-8 NLT)
We turn down a road that stretches along the Rossglass coast.
I suggested we stop for some refreshment. I had already prepared some coffee.
We parked our bicycles down a path to the beach and rested on top of the sand dune.
This particular coastline is an area where common seals congregate. It has the largest colony in Northern Ireland.
“Perhaps we can catch a glimpse of some seals today” I said to my son.
This is a safe, quiet part of a large bay stretching from Ardglass to Newcastle.
The seals blend in with the colour of the stones and outcrops along the coast.
There must be plenty of fish in the bay. Seals are not the friend of fishermen. They eat too many fish.
The timing of our stopping off could not have been better.
The tide was coming in. The seals lie on small islands offshore, safe from anyone disturbing them.
As the tide rises the islands get covered with water. The seals move to the next piece of dry ground. There were about twenty heads popping in and out of the sea circling around after being dislodged from the rocks by the incoming tide. Mother seals frollicked with their pups in the water.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
A mother seal and her pup climbed onto an outcrop of rock not far from us. Their black glossy bodies rippled up onto the rock to enjoy the warmth of the sun and just laze. Others mothers and pups soon joined them.
The biggest seal, a male, took the highest point of the rock outcrop. From the top he could be on the look out for danger, protecting his herd. I suspect he was the head of the group. They were of various colours, white specked, grey and black. They blended in with the colour of the rocks. I counted thirty seals.
I had a never to be forgotten opportunity to see the seals close up. Different factors contributed to this moment. There was a high tide and warm sunshine just happening as we were out this morning. I could not have planned it better.
I sat for half an hour savouring the experience of this intimate scene. The seals were oblivious to their visitors. We were well camouflaged on the bank nearby. From the top we could observe the wildlife. It was special moment.
I did not have my camera with me that morning. I went back the next day trying to capture some seals on camera.
Conditions were different. The tide and the seals were far away. As if to say “You will not recapture the moment” a mist quickly rolled in from the sea. I keep the sightings of the seals in my memory.
Sometimes God displays his Glory just for our eyes.
“He leads me beside still waters to restore my soul.” Psalm 23
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