Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Low tide at a different place

The Safari has nothing of particular note to report from Patch 1 other than three Wrens auditioning for 'Devvy Road Rock Gardens has Talent'. 20+ Magpies bounced and chattered their way through the ‘burbs as a couple of Dunnocks seeeeeep-ed their autumn call from deep within cover. And by ‘eck it was autumn this morning – the first time we have walked up the hill and you could see our breath this ‘summer’ and on reaching the butterfly glade it looked like there had been a pre-dawn frost. At least five Blackbirds were noted but they were quite mobile with all the doggy disturbance goin on at that time of the morning. A new ‘species’ – and we use the word very loosely - of dog hit the tick list –a Weimardoodle, and a belting looking tufty mutt-thing it is too.
Also noted were more Collared Doves than usual, or possibly/more likely the usual amount of Collared Doves in unusual places. A small flock of Blue and Great Tits contained no Long Tailed Tits or anything else today.
Patch 2 was horrifically quiet, the sea held a big fat zero of anything and the dropping tide had left seemingly little to interest the local gulls, very few of them this morning and just a handful of Oystercatchers loafing around too…that was it…very, very quiet.
The long march back to the office gave us a pair of Linnets on the overhead wires, a passing Meadow Pipit, and then, bird of the day, a Tree Pipit flew over calling, only our second of the year.
Then it was off to meet the group of little people on the beach, a bit of the beach we haven’t studied before…oooohhh. What a beautiful warm and sunny day it was too…and not before time!
Not only was it a bit of beach we haven’t looked at previously but it is also one of the main tourist beaches and so gets mechanically over-cleaned every day which certainly had some bearing on our finds.

Lots of Banded Wedge ShellsCommon Scoter food.
Sea squirt Corella parallelogramma? awaiting confirmation, could be anything really and we didn't get a pic...doh...
Sponge sp

Many Brown Shrimps – many even big enough to eat
Just a single tiny Common Prawn
Sand Gobies
Common Razor
Baltic Tellin including a tiny one no more than 3mm across which had the tell tale drill hole of Necklace Shell predation
The normally abundant Rayed Trough Shell was hard to find and no whole ones.
Small Common Cockle shells
Edible Mussels
Sand Mason Worm
Compass Jellyfish
Edible Whelk

A few ‘peeler’ Green Shore Crabs hiding around the legs of the pier and talking of legs just one leg from a Masked Crab.
The smallest Starfish we’ve ever seen, with one tube foot poking out.

Striped Venus, which if the growth rings are laid down annually as in a tree then this individual is about 50 years old.

Not a bad haul, species-wise if not quantity-wise for an hours work
A short late lunchtime/early afternoon safari back to Patch 2 was similarly quiet to this morning’s visit but without the gulls and Oystercatchers as the tide was in. Double quiet indeedy then! A small string of around a couple of dozen Common Scoters flew northwards along the shimming horizon while 50 or more sat out in small groups scattered far and wide. A single male sat all on his lonesome close inshore. Nearby a Cormorant wrestled with a large flattie for a few minutes before it was no more than a strange shaped bulge in the birds crop – shhhhh don’t tell the fishermen or they’ll be baying for a cull. “How very dare they make a living from our fun!!!”
A dead Harbour Porpoise at the southern end of the Patch was reported to us and so we just had to go and have a look…bit of a mess on the throat and chest - impossible to tell what made the injuries or if they are an after death thing.

Then we were off to the big park to collect our exhibition pics so they can be relocated on the walls at work for September - so if you missed them at the Visitor Centre and your desperate to see em you still have a chance.

Had a look on the lake, got about 100 Coots and lots of Black Headed Gulls, one with a BTO type ring far to far away to read but none with Darviks. This young gull looked very Yellow Legged type when on the jetty with obvious Herring and Lesser Blackies around it for comparison, very white flat head, big dark bulbous bill with strong gonydial angle, very pale belly but in this pic just looks like a Herring Gull to me, the mantle was the usual mottled brown not showing much sign of any grey coming through..any advice anyone. Sorry about the quality of the pic it was a long way off and as soon as we started taking pics it hopped in to the water on the far side of the jetty had a quick bathe then flew off, could only get this one flight pic before it disappeared over the trees. Coverts are more brown than the grey in the pic and you can't really see the patternation.
The mystery stuff continues...a colleague of Wifey wants to plant some acorns to grow Oak trees and asked if it was possible to plant crinkly acorns...duhh what? Well he brought one in to work and Wifey brought it home. It sits on the top joint of our thumb - just. I think I know what it is over to you...anyone got any thoughts?

Where to next? Just the usual patchy stuff tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what’s all washed up in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

Those acorns are called knopper galls. They are caused by a parasitic wasp called Andricus quercuscalicus. Just been reading about them in the latest British Wildlife magazine - how fortunate was that!

cliff said...

Warren beat me too it :-)

Per my 'triffic new book the name "Knopper Gall comes from the word knop, meaning a small, protuberant object" & goes onto say "some of these knoppers warp into folds like an old dishcloth: others turn into spikey green maces"

& "the wasp responsible (as named by Warren above) is a recent introduction, first noticed in 1956 ........................ Foresters fear that these galls may be reducing the regeneration of native oaks by turning their acorns into sterile galls".

So I'd tell your pal not to bother planting her crinkly acorns.


anthony said...

slightly interesting footnote on the Knoppers - as they get old they die off and go hard and brown, at this point they can be used for natural dyeing purposes and can give a nice greeny/yellow colour, however to fix the colour you need a mordant - best bet, human urine - the Vikings swore by it...
Toodle Pip!
The Anno.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Warren - all I can say is B*GGER hadn't read that article yet!!! Just looked at the petty picture at the start of it and never got round to turning the page

Cliff - Ryan will be round your house tattoos n all for refering to him as a her

Not trying it myself Anno

Thanks all fascinating stuff and some bedtime reading

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Cliff - forgot to mention your L. Egret portfolio is quite good!!!


http://www.fyldecoastwildlife.co.uk/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=lastup&cat=0 31st August for anyone else who fancies a look - worth it!