The Safari is surely addicted to wildlife we've had so many great sightings and experiences this week that haven't satiated us but left us wanting more!
What haven't we been up to? We really have had it all! And we think we've seen just about every cub, beaver, brownie and rainbow north of the river in the last couple of weeks - hectic...and noisy...times!!!
So what have we been upto, well it all started with a new development in the works garden a new bug hotel started by the our engineering 51st cubs and beavers and will be added too by other cub and brownie packs overt he next few weeks and then family groups in the summer holidays - gonna be good!
There's a turf roof planned and it can be lifted to slide more storeys in from below. The wild garden it is is looking good at the moment an absolute riot of colour provided you can see past your prejudice against Thistles, Willowherbs and Ragwort.
The following day we joined friends in the Education Dept at the Zoo to help them with their National Insect Week events. It was a bit quiet but a Speckled Wood butterfly kept us compamy. One of the participants found a Marsh Snipe Fly, not recorded in our area before. The tiniest of flies turned out to be a Bark Fly
and one of the zoo girls found the tiniest leafhopper which was eventually identified as Potato Leafhopper - one other record for the Fylde from the far east of the area...not bad for a first attempt!
Later, in the evening we were on the beach with brownies and rainbows. All manner of the usual things were found and even a few of the tricky Sand Gobies were netted. What got most attention was a cannibal crab. Normally when Green Shore Crabs are put together they either pair up or have a tussle and then the smaller ones hide away. Not this time - the big one pictured hunted down his bucket-mate and promptly severed a pincer and proceeded to chow down on the soggy end, once he'd eaten that he was off on the hunt again - a rather unpleasant character!
A fair few tiny fry, no more than hatchlings we caught, more by luck than judgement but what will they grow into - hmmm another wildlife mystery that'll need to be solved. A couple of tiny Blennies were caught but nothing approaching the size of the one our Extreme Photographer found was seen.
Yesterday the works cuomputers and phones were down all morning, all very frustrating and after a few hours of pottering around non-digitally we were getting a wee bit frustrated so as it was near lunchtime we said to hell with it to the boss grabbed the scope and went over to Patch 2...tuened out to be a good move.
A couple of cursory scans saw us locate a couple of Grey Seals including one sitting teasingly a few yards further out than the fishermen could cast.
Out in the distance nothing much was happening, conditions were good and we could pick out a few Herring Gulls sitting on the wave and swell-less water a long way off.
While half looking at one of these gulls a large dark shape appeared behind it, a reasonable way beyond it maybe another 500 yards or more, low to the water with a sticky up bit at one end, we saw it a couple of times at first and passed it off as a piece of driftwood...but it kept disappearing and popping up further to the south...surely if it was drift wood it would be drifting north on the tide and being pushed that way by the SE breeze too, not going against tide and wind??? We decided to study it much more intently when it reappeared, bearing in mind it couldn't hide behind waves orr swell like driftwood can because today there weren't any.
We looked hard in the most likely area for it to pop up again but instead caught a bit of a large splash right in the bottom of the scope's field of view. Spinning the scope round we caught half a dozen Bottle Nosed Dolphins porpoising southwards at breakneck speed...nice but we doubted what we'd seen earlier was a dolphin, something much bigger Basking Shark or Minke Whale and due to the long dark back the latter would be a more obvious choice than the former.
Anyway the search for the mystery beast was abandoned when the fishermen called out 'dolphins!!!'; 'Yes' we replied 'over there' we pointed the way the six had sped; 'No - there' they pointed north were there were more and another group further north still. We had a good three quarters of an hour watching at least another ten animals come slowly past us in small groups, the closest was just at the low water mark right in front of us.
No chance of any pics unfortunately but we did manage to get several passers-by on to them and was joined by DC for while too.
While watching them get further away and far more sporadic in their appearances to the the south we found a third Grey Seal...not a bad escape from the fruitless desk, well chuffed!!!!!
Then in the evening we had another brownie pack, they were supposed to be going rockpooling but most weren't shod correctly for the beach so we had an impromptu pond dip and mini-beast safari instead. well worth it. The pond is a bit of a dead loss as the idiot(s) who put in the Goldfish/Koi Carp have totally screwed up the ecology...none native super-predator - nightmare. There's still too many 3-Spined Sticklebacks too but numbers are well down on last year. Sadly we didn't catch the goldfish but a male Stickleback was a great find for the girls.
After a good old dip it was time to hunt down some terrestrial invertebrates. One of the girls said she's seen some caterpillars earlier - news to us we'd not noticed any...no wonder we'd have been looking down, she was looking up. A few White butterfly sp caterpillars had been feeding on Wall Mustard and were now beginning to pupate on the windows at the end of our building - great find!
|This one was still wriggling from time to time possibly adding more silk to its web|
The nearly enjoyed holding the Pillbugs, there were a few squeals of horror rather than delight at first, wussy parents have a lot to answer for!
Near the door to the building a shrub has a Blackbird's nest in it and a couple of lucky girls were stood quietly just in the right place to see the male come back with a beakful of worms and feed his brood, at least two chicks they said, what a marvelous experience for them to have witnessed.
Today the dolphins didn't show but we were back at the zoo again, this time with a much bigger crowd to entertain.
Not an insect but this Toad was a nice find under a pile of windfall logs.
A Red Admiral held territory behind us and saw off a rival returning to his regular basking spot but was obviously warm enoughas he wouldn't open his wings.
So there you have it a brilliant few days of safari-ing with sightings of animals from five ton (possible) whale down to almost microscopically small but still fun (and perhaps more important in the bigger scheme of things) Springtails.
Yes we're definitely addicted to wildlife and can you blame us with so much wonderous stuff around - and we've barely mentioned any plants!
Where to next? more Patch 2 and back to the zoo for another National Insect week session.
In the meantime let us know who's eating who in your outback.
Oh and by the way we now think we have a new favourite animal, the poor Giraffes have been usurped by the gorgeous looking Mara, half rodent half deer with a Coyote's colouration, at first
But then these stole the show - not cute but certainly charismatic and boy do they look powerful when they rear up on their hind legs, shoulders Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of.
Must get some better pics and really must try to go to see them in their natural habitat in South America, a stunning animal.