Thursday, 25 August 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

The Safari joined a sizeable crowd on the Bat Walk last night with the Rangers through the big park. After a brief introduction to the world of bats at the Visitor Centre we headed out bat detectors at the ready. Aiming towards the sheltered Rose Gardens the detectors soon picked up the click click clicks of a Pipistrelle hunting along a row of trees. Torches were shone and most of the group got to see their first bat of the night. Several of us had moth nets too and it was here that the first Old Lady was potted up...a first live sighting for us of this impressively large species.

The Rose Garden is noted for its small pond which is full to busting with Smooth Newts and tonight was no exception; we were able to pot an adult male to show the group. Also found here was a Crescent moth. Our next stop was near the lake, there was a big hit on the detectors as a bat went overhead; shining the torches revealed a large moth high in the trees which our Extreme Photographer tried to reach with his extendable joy but he did disturb a bat which flew through the densest shrubbery only a few feet away without the detectors picking up a sound – it could only have been the very quiet Long Eared Bat – nice one! It was probably gleaning small insects from the undersides of the leaves when he swung at the moth with the net.
Over the lake it was like Gotham City there were bats galore and the torches soon picked out the white bellies of Daubenton’s Bats as they skimmed low over the water. The detectors were buzzing with the numbers of bats present. The Boathouse is lit by several security lights and the white wall had three Old Ladies on it.
We tried the bridges to see if we could see any bats flying beneath us but the wind was being funnelled through them and there were none here. A Common Rustic (agg) found its way into the pot under the trees where a Pipistrelle and a Treecreeper were found roosting on last year’s walk.
Setting off down the very dark back of the park the bats dried up but we did have excellent views of the International Space Station as it went over about 220 miles above us...shame the astronauts aren’t going to get their new supplies this week; the Russian rocket didn’t reach them...oops.
The rest of the group went on over the road into the woodland area but we bottled out and opted for an early night and missing out on a Hedgehog and half a dozen Red Underwings drinking sap from the bark of an Oak tree.
This morning dawned very autumnal, chilly with a Robin singing at the end of the street. Not much else was about; another Robin and three Blackbirds at the Golden Triangle which has been a bit quiet recently, nothing of note in the park proper and a Sparrowhawk over the houses. No Peregrines on the tower again.
Out on patch 2 two Grey Seals were well separated, two flocks of Sanderlings whizzed southwards, 11 and 11, best bird of the short watch was a Teal also going south towards the estuary. A few Common Scoters bobbed about on the wavelets and one male was much closer in. Grabbing the camera we went to get some pics of him - a bit too far out - looks like we should have taken the little camera and digiscoped him.

For our lunchtime session only one of the Grey Seals was present but it did put on a ‘how to eat an enormous flatfish' show (probably a Plaice). There were a dozen or so Sandwich Terns fishing quite successfully not far off shore but precious little else or interest.
We were back on the beach later in the afternoon with another family group and didn’t they do well! Or at least didn’t they do differently to yesterday! They were rockpooling in the same place and managed to find totally different creatures. One of the first things caught was this Sea Gooseberry, the first seen since the spring, in the end they’d netted several of them.

Tricky little things to get pics of being transparent the camera doesn't know where they are.

Lots of Common Prawns and only a few Brown Shrimps today with one fish that looks like a young Blenny. This Beadlet Anemone was very low down in the pools, almost on the beach, and is among the biggest found so far. Bits of Sand (or Blunt) Gaper (not sure which species) were found which are not common here shown with the similar Common Otter Shell for comparison. A complete specimen of Carpet Pullet Shell was a rare find.
Also collected today but not seen recently were several broken pieces of Sea Hearts aka Sea Potato a species of hairy rather than spiny Sea Urchin. After yesterday’s smallest ever Common Sand Star today we failed to find a single one.
It’s not only the Weaver Fish and jellyfish that can cause serious grief to the unwary barefoot brigade...and one of the main reasons our ‘elf n safety’ specifies shoes/wellies must be worn at all really wouldn’t want to put your foot on those.
All in all yet another great day on the beach – and in blistering summer sunshine today rather than torrential rain...makes a refreshing change.
Where to next? Pond dipping this evening with yet another group
In the meantime let us know what’s reappeared in your outback


Monika said...

That sea gooseberry is very cool! Never seen anything like it.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika - see here for more info

I'd be surprised you don't have something similar in the Pacific


PS I need to get a shimmy on - you're catching me up!!!!