Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Back on the beach yet again

The Safari started well this morning when a Grey Wagtail (P2 #67) flew over us as we were fumbling with the keys to unlock the front door to the office first thing! Later in the morning we were with the families on the beach again today for the penultimate time this summer season. The early morning had us once again filled with trepidation due to torrential downpours but we needn't have worried as with yesterday the rain dried up and the sun came out. 
We'd arranged the Family Learning team to meet the families at a different place, not just over the road from the office on Patch 2, this time we were up the road a bit by the pier an area we've not really investigated to any degree before.
After a brief intro we gave everyone a net and pot and off they went down the beach. There are no rockpools on this stretch of seawall, it's the 'new' bit with the 'Spanish steps'. The tide had not long dropped and a large shallow pool had been left - just ripe for a  serious amount of netting. 
There were plenty of Sand Gobies but they were so difficult to catch! A couple did manage to find their way in to a pot. A nice variety of shells were found including a huge heavy rather old Iceland Cyprine probably well older than we are, many nice Striped Venuses, even a old Native Oyster, not old in the same sense as the long lived Iceland Cyprine, this was probably eaten as a snack on the beach some time between the wars and chucked away like the kids do with MacDonalds wrappers today and had been rolling around in the surf for all those years.
Somewhat surprisingly perhaps there were very few Brown Shrimps, on Patch 2 a runnel like this would be crammed with them. Arthropods were represented by a fair number of small and medium sized Green Shore Crabs along with a couple of Masked Crab carapaces and some shed skins of a species of swimming crab, we're not sure which but possibly Liocarcinus holsatus. The best find was an enormous pincer from an Edible Crab.
As ever our hour came to an end all too soon and it was time to pack up and go our separate ways. The kids had a had great fun, and we have to say their parents had too and these are children who don't normally ever get onto the beach even though they live within spitting distance of it. Let's hope they are inspired to explore more often now they've had a taster session.
We had a very fast bite of lunch and then went out with our own net and pot to see what we could find and try some underwater photographs. Not a lot of success we have to say but we'll persevere, we've yet to suss the best way of using the camera, it deffo needs lots of light and the water has to very clear otherwise the pics look like they've been taken in porridge. Perhaps we need to shoot video and just pull still off that.
Here's a couple of shots of a Common Starfish we came across in one of the rockpools. not bad but we could do better.
Where to next? Another attempt at underwater pics tomorrow - we might try some in more controlled conditions to get the hang of it first - we're thinking freshwater and 3-Spined Sticklebacks!
In the meantime let us know hows netting what in your outback.

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