Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bully boys come to town

The Safari was climbing the hill this morning when we heard the deep throated bellow of a Great Black Backed Gull (P1 62). Looking up we saw two cruising around, dwarfing the local Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls. Not often we see them this far inland up this way although they do visit the nature reserve frequently which is further inland still.
Rounding the corner into the side street we spied the familiar form of PL on yet another early start in an attempt to get some pics of the Peregrines. He’d succeeded but we were too late as the female had already left. Nothing else of note in the park but we did get our last sample of Sycamore leaves for the OPAL air survey we’ve been doing this week.

This is a horrendously easy survey to help with; provided you can count and identify Sycamore leaves the hardest bit is choosing ten at random from each tree. For anyone that likes playing with bubble mixture and staring at the sky the climate surveys are easy-peasy too. Simple citizen science that can give a huge range of data for the boffins and number-crunchers to work with.
Patch 2 was dire almost devoid of anything apart from new families of gulls. A few Sandwich Terns head out towards their fishing grounds and two small flocks of Common Scoters headed north in the middle distance. Hardly earth shattering.
If any local folk read this you might be interested in the following events being held over the next couple of weeks or so, or perhaps others from further afield might like to make the trip to the coast.

Wed 3rd August

National Marine Week family event
South Beach - Beach Care survey, rockpooling & beach fun
Meet at the Mirror Ball at 11am

Thurs 4th August

National Marine Week family event
Central Pier - Beach Care survey, shell search & beach fun
Meet at the south side of Central Pier at 11am

5-7th August

National Whale & Dolphin Watch 2011

Friday 5th Mirror Ball - 2pm - 6pm
Saturday 6th St Chad's headland - 2pm - 6pm
Sunday 7th Bispham tram station - 2pm - 6pm

Monday 8th – Friday 12th Mirror Ball - 12 - 1pm

For full details contact the Solaris Centre

Wed 10th August

National Marine Week family event
Gynn Square - Beach Care survey, shell search & beach fun
Meet by Gynn Square tram stop at 2.30pm

Thurs 11th August

National Marine Week family event
Little Bispham/Princes Promenade
Beach Care survey, shell search & beach fun
Meet at the south end of Princes Promenade at 2.30pm

All events are free and the Marine week events will last about an hour to an hour and a half.

Hope to see you at one or more of them.
A Grey Seal put in an brief appearance for the lunchtime safari and a trawler, the Emily-J was collecting a big following of gulls to the north. Hoped it would come past us and we could check to see if there were any Storm Petrels in its wake (unlikely but you never know) but it didn’t reach us before we had to go and wait for our pond dipping group.
The nets hit the water and stuff, mostly Common Pond Snails and Keeled Ramshorns were hoiked out. Several 3-spined Sticklebacks made it into the trays, including a couple almost big enough to accompany a plate of chips.

One had a couple of unpleasant looking swellings; at first we thought the spots were part of the disease but on closer inspection they appear to be normal, but stretched, patternation of the skin.

The Sticklebacks, although great for the kids to catch, are a bit of a pain as they eat anything smaller than themselves; case in point was this arvo we were trying to get a pic of a small unusual something we’ve not seen before when the inevitable happened...gone in two bites right before our very lens!!!
There are only ever three species of snail found in the pond, the two already mentioned and Bithynia tentaculata. We joked about a big prize to anyone who could find a fourth...really shouldn’t do that...someone did! It’s not a species we come across before in any pond so where has it managed to sneak in from we haven’t added any water, mud or other animals for a couple of years now, another species of Bithynia perhaps with a longer spiral.

Really could use some new water it’s about a foot down on its maximum level.
A few Water Mites came out, mostly small brown ones but also this rather nice almost ladybird-like red one.

A single small Water Hog Louse also found its way into the tray as did a bright green Damselfly nymph which for some reason we didn’t point the camera at.

Yesterday’s lovely sunshine had disappeared and that put the mockers on looking for any terrestrial stuff but before the group arrived we’d potted a Marbled Beauty moth to show them and later found one of the older lads a Campion moth caterpillar hiding away in the seedhead of one of our Red Campion plants.
Then it rained...where’d that come from and can we have our blistering sunshine back?
Where to next? Day off tomorrow with a safari a little further afield planned.
In the meantime let us know what’s snuck in under the radar into your outback

1 comment:

cliff said...

Dave - could your snail be a Wandering Snail[Lymnaea peregra]??