RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails...Magic of the Blue Lagoon

This is the Blue Lagoon, which composer Eric Coates made famous with his music for Desert Island Discs. You can see Bognor in the far distance and the Church Norton beach in foreground.

Here grow the clumps of sea kale which is a nationally-threatened plant, as are many shingle plants these days of tramping feet and seaside excursion. But Pagham Harbour is well managed as a local Nature Reserve and many people, from county councillors to RSPB and wildfowlers, try their hardest to protect every aspect of this nationally-rich wildlife area.

In summer this is a lovely beach where a few people lie on the warm shingle and stare out to sea as they readjust their equilibrium to all the hysteric and chaotic messages the human species delivers to itself through night and day. ‘Calm down’ you can hear the sea saying on the shingle.

For those capable of knowing the type of music no longer in vogue, whose beginnings emanated from Hollywood in the 20s when thousands of East European violinists migrated from their homeland to the USA and created the creamy Melachrino strings sounds, Coates will give the background tune that will further relax the brain.

I am continually amazed that the composer who died in a Chichester hospital in 1957 never received any honour for his years of musical service to our culture. He was then thought to be insignificant by the establishment.

Whether you commune with Coates or Crambe maritima, curlews or cormorants, Church Norton has charisma. Often the high-tide waves smash and curl whitely on the banks, then the draw-down makes a sound like Milton’s Leviathan sucking and roaring breath from out his spout.

At other times you are in the mirage of a desert island with the sea seeming suspended in blue void and no line or place of meeting. At low tide there is the Empty Quarter before you, with a flat plain of sand and shingle to a distant shore.

Cormorants flight back and forth from fish shoal to harbour bank where they hold their wings out to dry. Sometimes the peregrines flight to sport among the shoals of waders which roll and reform like sardines chased by the porpoise.

Always you will hear the piping of redshanks behind you on the flats. If you are lucky there will come a trip of turnstones hurtling by, which will just as suddenly land on the shingle all around you and begin their hunt for sandhoppers or seaweed flies.

Gulls row with white oars this way and back again, and early autumn terns as graceful as white swallows fan their way gently on towards the South Pole for Christmas.

This is a magic isle. One can imagine Prospero and Ariel, Caliban and perhaps even Miranda, while good old Coates provides the background music.