Wednesday, 11 May 2011

No ideer where it came from...or where it went

The Safari tried to peer through the gaps between the houses on the other side of the main road to the school field this morning to see if the deer sp was still present. We couldn’t see much of the field, most people have high gates or rear fences, and some even have trees and shrubs. What a cracking find for the lucky chap.

Round at the Rough Field we had a hopeful stop and scan without success but there are a coupe of quiet areas there away from dog walkers and noisy school kids where it could hole up for the day; the only thing of note was the Whitethroat was dancing away in mid-air and we did spot a single flower of Ladies Smock, about time this damp grassland specialist really took off on here and brought in some Orange Tip butterflies for us to ‘enjoy’ frustratingly unsuccessfully chasing round with the camera. Be quite happy if we could get some more Meadow Buttercups, Cowslips, Oxeye Daisies, Black Knapweed, Meadow Cranesbill and Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil etc going too and make a real wildflower meadow of it....followed by a little colony of Common Spotted Orchids and a few Common Twayblades – be really good then...
Not a lot of other news from Patch 1. We stopped and listened for the Iberian Chiffchaff but heard nothing suspicious; two normal Chiffchaffs were singing along with three Blackcaps and, bird of the day so far, a Garden this new in or one of the others that has been quiet for a few days?
Over near the playground we saw a silent Phyllosc...was this THE bird...again???
More important than a lost vagrant was the sighting of a pair of Coal Tits feeding a recently fledged youngster and surprisingly we heard another singing at the opposite end of the park – have two pairs been present? – might be an answer to why we’ve heard song from the northern conifers and the central conifers despite us thinking they were both the same bird.
On the drive up the hill to work we saw that the Peregrine was back in residence.
Patch 2 packed a bit of a punch with a cool, brisk south westerly blowing. The first scan from south to north didn’t produce much other than a couple of Gannets until we’d swung right round to the north. It was then we spotted a decent sized flock of white birds making their way towards us in the distance. At first we thought they were probably Arctic Terns but we soon noticed their flight pattern was totally wrong for this species. We followed them a little closer and they became a flock of about 75 Kittiwakes, all but three were adults – a really nice sight in the morning light, with extra stragglers somewhere around 100 were seen altogether. Watching them all the way passed us we noted the Gannets beyond them and came to a final count of 19 all diving for fish, not a bad count at all considering they were strung out across the horizon and not concentrated round a bait ball.
The only other birds we found were two flocks of Common Scoters numbering about 30 and a pair of Sandwich Terns.
At lunchtime it was low tide and there was line of fisherman with rods out waiting to walk the tide back so nothing was on the beach. By now the sun had come out and the haze made distance viewing awkward although we managed a small number of Gannets and small flocks of Common Scoters. Bird of the session was either the drake Eider not far in front of the fisherman or the almost fully summer plumaged Turnstone on the wall below us, one of seven there.
An impromptu visit by the Dunes Officer and a couple of volunteers saw us out on the other side of the seawall armed with nets and trays to have a look at the marine life – and it was good!

We soon came across this Blunt Gaper, a quality find, there aren't many of them and this one is undamaged.

A Green Shore Crab in the process of peelng its old shell was in the tray next. Unfortunately in the process of trasfering it from the net to the tray it managed to release itself from its old carapace. It's been in the wars as the old shell has lost a couple of legs an one of the claws, on the animal itself you'll notice he has only one eye. The pointy abdomen gives his sex away. A much larger one about 5 inches (12cm) across was found later but the camera batteries had expired by then.

Prawns are vey common in the shallows along the bottom of the wall, although some of the bigger ones are found in the pools two or three rows up. This one is a large female clutching an egg-mass beneath her abdomen with her middle sets of legs.

Beadlet Anenomes have gone Billy-bonkers, from thinking we'd done well finding one or two a year or so ago now almost every that holds water has them. One of our friends has counted many holes and her maximum is 15 in one pool.

Early on in the session we found a small number of tiny jellyfish pulsating their way around the pools (see first video) but one of the vounteers went adventuring and found two much larger specimens. This one being about 6 inches (15cm across). Doing a bit of careful jelly-wrangling to get it to flip over for pic purposes when we got back to the office to process the pics we felt a buzzing sensation in our fingers - it had zapped us!!! We're not sure of the species but looking at these pics we now think it might be Compass Jellyfish - anyone confirm or know different? The second video is this individual swimming bout.

Also noted was a Starling collecting small crabs, Sea Slaters etc to take back to its nestlings - how do they cope with the salt in their food or are mum n dad poisoning them? Time to start an investigation!

Where to next? More marine stuff or more birds - you'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime let us know what's pulsating in your outback.

And finally here's a longer snatch of Iberian Chiffchaff video, you can just make out the bird flitting around in the twigs.


Dean said...

You`ve got the best of both worlds (birds & marine stuff), Dave. Lucky sod. Oh, to live by the coast.

Kathryn ( FCMLP) said...

Hi Dave
Lovely pictures especially of the anemone.
I think the jellys are young lions mane these have far more stringy bits that deep red orange colour and no very obvious black lines on the mantle.

Not sure about the one that looks colourless.

What is unusual is the sall size of them. They are a summer vagrant for us in that they come up from the south around easter time as new adults but aybe its time to consider that they might be breeding closer to home and therefore residents rather than vagrants.
Im rather jealous of youre rummaging from my desk job.
Onwards and upwards. next week a live cuttlefish!!
kathryn (FCMLP)