Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Windy enough?

The Safari walked up the steps to the Mirror Ball in the lee of the wall and it didn’t feel that bad. But once we reached the high spot it felt like our wig was going to fly off to Yorkshire.
High winds in summer aren’t that bad despite the overnight massacre of our tomatoes and runner beans...they give the possibility of coastal Storm Petrels.
So with the scope on the wall we started scanning straight and straight away found a few Gannets, two Manx Shearwaters and five Common Terns bravely heading out in to the tumbling waves. Not as interesting as we might have hoped. None of the Holy Grail birds though, not even a Fulmar to give a little zest to the morning’s proceedings.
Somewhat remarkably and certainly welcome the sun was shining by the time we got out at lunchtime. Sunshine, unfortunately, meant shimmery haze. We soon got on to a few Gannets with both youngsters and adults being recorded in equal numbers, of the young birds most were this year’s so it looks like they have been more successful than other seabirds. A single Manx Shearwater was disappointing, we’d hoped there would have been many more.
In the middle distance we picked up two adult Kittiwakes but beyond them in the shimmery further distance we saw a dark shape wobbling about above the horizon. It’s jizz gave it up as a skua and as it got nearer we could tell it was quite chunky and obviously much bulkier than the Kittiwakes that had just passed by...but we were unable to pin down an ID on it before it landed, or got in to the troughs of the rough sea and was lost to view.
We watched the dropping tide a little while longer but nothing more was forthcoming.
Time for a change, we swapped scope for camera and headed south a few hundred yards to where the concrete sea wall is replaced by the natural sea defences of the sand dunes.
We’d had a tip off that there was a good show of orchids at the moment and it was worth a visit. Not only that we’d also been given inch perfect directions to an especially rare one.
On the walk through the dunes from the road we spotted a large pink blob on a stick waving around in the stiff breeze...could only be one thing – a Pyramidal Orchid...beautiful.

Duly photographed we meandered on a few more yards and came to our destination, a small group of Dune Helleborines, Epipactis dunensis, a Lancashire (or at least former County of Lancashire) speciality...most are now in Merseyside. This is a rare plant found in only a handful of locationsthroughout the UK.  

Wouldn’t like to say what the world population is but it can’t be more than a few thousand individuals not all of which will show in any one year.
The ones in the NE now been DNA tested and have been found to be another species altogether, and consequently even rarer the  Lindisfarne Helleborine, Epipactis sancta
A tidy looking Robber Fly flitted along the patch in front of us but evaded the lens. Moving from the mobile dunes on one side of the road to the fixed dunes on the other – (sub) urban development on the once extensive dune system here has reduced it to small over-used vulnerable pockets which still hold a fantastic variety of plants but sadly our Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads are lost – we switched our attention to another orchid, this time the much more common and widespread but still classed as scarce, and horribly similar to the Dune Helleborine, Green Flowered Helleborine  
Again MJ’s instructions were inch perfect and we found the plants without too much ado...apart from losing our macro attachment, something we hadn’t noticed until a very kind dog walker came up asking if we’d lost something holding up and waving said lens, now covered in sand.
Lens wiped as gently as we could and reattached we fired off a few pics. 

A few butterflies were about mainly Meadow Browns but on closer inspection some of those were our first Gatekeepers of the year.
That was the end of lunchtime; with plenty of seriously heavy stuff playing on our mind we could have stayed out all afternoon in the sunshine enjoying the impressive floral display the small reserve has to offer but we dutifully went back to work.
Not often we agree with tory peers but we just saw this  If the roadside wild-flowers are going to stand any chance then the litter issue has to be addressed otherwise there will be vociferous calls from the ‘tidy’ brigade to keep the verges mown so as litter can be collected...we all no that mowing contractors only rarely litter-pick before putting their blades to the vegetation with the inevitable mess following moments later.
There is absolutely no excuse for litter anywhere what-so-ever we’ve had years and years of campaigns yet the lazy and those with no respect for themselves or their environment still whazz it here and there with ‘gay abandon’ - fine em? Nah cut their flippin hands off!!!
Where to next? More wind vicar???
In the meantime let us know what's causing ID difficulties in your outback.
Hold the front page - during the typing of this rubbish the French doors (at long last!!! - shut again now though sun's gone in :-( ) have been  open and we've noted a few Swallows heading south


Warren Baker said...

Good one with the Gatekeeper Davo. They are emerging everywhere now :-)

I have learned to live with the litter now, as long as it isn't a threat to the wildlife, I dont let it wind me up anymore :-)

Blackpool Nature said...

Hi Dave !

Thanks for the moth ID.
Great Blog and nice pics
Another Orchid - lucky devil !
Tell Warren he needs to get wound up about litter - if more of us got angry about it maybe something would be done about it - there I go again - Kenny Everetts Mr Angry !!!



Love to Frank