Monday, 23 July 2012

A lovely warm day on the beach

The Safari forgot to look for Old Ladies and Gothics (don't moths have great names!) in the garden at Base Camp last night; these two species are being seen in friends’ gardens not too far from Base Camp but so far we’ve never had either species grace our Buddleia with their presence.
So a minor set back last night but easily rectified by a crop of decent warm weather coming up hopefully one or both species will be found before to long.
This morning the strong overnight wind hadn’t abated and the sea was far too choppy to stand any chance of seeing any mammals; there’s been a flurry of Harbour Porpoise sightings away down the far end of the South-side recently and it would appear that the pod of six Bottle Nosed Dolphins we saw a few weeks ago are still kicking around offshore but over the horizon.
Far closer than the horizon from Patch 2 this morning were two Arctic Skuas. One of which harried a Herring Gull in to giving it a meal...not sure we’d relish the contents of a Herring Gulls crop/stomach but it’s obviously manna from heaven for the skuas.
Not a great lot of anything else out there other than a few distant terns.
After a quick cuppa we were back out leading a large group of young kiddies on their rockpooling session. The wind last night meant there was some interesting stuff washed up on the beach. The very first thing we picked up was a White Piddock shell which are not at all common or regular on our beach; unbroken too which is unusual for this very fragile species.
That seemed to be a good omen as before too long the nets were hoiking out huge numbers of small Brown Shrimps and a good many Common Prawns.  It wasn’t long before the first live crab appeared in one of the trays although we did need a microscope to see it properly, it was a tiny juvenile; bigger ones were eventually netted. 

Amongst the shrimps was another small wriggly thing that darted around the tray hiding under whatever was nearest – we eventually got to grips with it and identified it as a very recently hatched Blenny no more than 6 or 7mm long. What a find!

Most of the usual suspects were found, Pod and Common Razor Shells, Prickly and Common Cockles, Banded Wedge Shells, Rayed Trough Shells, and many more until one young girl showed us a larger than usual specimen of Iceland Cyprine and they are usually pretty big! But her success was short lived as another young lady brought us an enormous and very fresh Edible Oyster – great news and probably find of the year! What a beauty as a certain fisherman used to say...probably still does.
The sharp, undamaged frills show this specimen to be a fesh one and not one that has been rolling around in the tide for a good while...soooo there must be a small population out there somewhere...which is good.

A mystery item was brought to us to identify and it remains very much a mystery, possibly some a skull from some species of fish or other? Never seen anything quite like it in all our born days! Our marine biologist guru DB had a tentative guess at the skull of a Scorpion Fish.

Some of the pots hold anemones of various species and we wanted to show some of the older children ‘Nemo’s home’ but instead found a couple of live Sand Mason Worms, their cases are washed up by the million but we’ve never seen live ones at the top of the beach before even the ‘highest’ ones are only normally exposed by the very lowest low tides.

All most very excellent.
A lunchtime peer through the scope was nowhere near as productive with just a number of distant terns and one very distant Gannet to show for our efforts.
Where to next? Day off tomorrow to head back down the motorway to see m'laddo in hossy so there's a very good chance the moff trap will go on overnight.
In the meantime let us know what's all washed up in your outback.

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