Thursday, 6 August 2015

Seawatching help in the form of an extra pair of compound eyes today

The Safari had a little companion on our Patch 2 watch this morning
There were a good number of Sandwich Terns fishing up and down offshore and then we found a flock roosting on the beach. It was hard to keep a tally on them as they kept flying out to sea and being replaced by incoming birds. We watched one leave fish a bit, successfully catching tiddlers then went back to a second, nearer, roost we'd not spotted earlier. At a conservative guess we reckon there were about 55 out there. Another look at the first roost revealed five Common Terns had snuck in under the radar too.
Looking back out to sea to watch more fishing action we saw a dark bird skimming the wave tops coming directly towards us - this was no young gull, longer wings and more languid flight action it soon gave itself up as a dark phase Arctic Skua when it wheeled into action and gave a high spiral Sandwich Tern a right mugging. It plummeted seawards to catch its prize then set about an adult Lesser Black Backed Gull. After a few moments chase the gull was having none of it and the tables were turned the gull doggedly chasing the skua for about a mile back out to sea.
Once again mid-morning we were out with a children's group this time on a mini-beast safari in the big park. It was cool and dark with spots of rain more often than not and it took a while for the youngstersd to get their collective eye in for spotting well hidden beasties. this wasn't the sort of morning were bees and butterflies were going to be order of the day, this was a morning for looking under fissures in the bark of trees, inspecting the undersides of leaves for greenflies and rummaging through leaf-litter for woodlice.
But their sharp eyes soon locked on to the slightest movements and the pots began to fill with Grass Veneer moths, tiny Garden Cross spiders, even a Harlequin Ladybird.
The sun tried to come out and then hoverflies, including a big Drone Fly, more Grass Veneer moths, bumble bees, slugs and snails found their way into the pots; not sure about the slugs and snails - they don't half gum up the pots for the next group - - yukkkk. 
One pair of sharp eyes was more than a match for the camouflage of a Eudonia sp moth resting on a lichen covered tree, a young lad's quick hands had a Straw Dot moth in the blink of an eye -- it didn't stand a chance. One of the dads was doing well with good numbers of strange dipteran flies which will always remain nameless and then brought a beautiful male Red Tailed Bumble Bee which sadly refused to keep still for a pic.

As is always the case time ran out just as it was getting exciting.
We ate our lunch in the car park and saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly over, why didn't  it do that when we were showing the children the old dead tree full of woodpecker holes and covered in huge hard Bracket Fungi
After lunch we had another group of youngsters this time on the beach again.
While we waited for them to arrive we looked for the odd-ball gull but didn't see it today so just had to make do with firing off a few shots of the many different plumages on show today.
These next two were very interested in the picnic the family below us had just opened up.
And with all the ridiculous gull hype and hysteria going on at the moment we tried to get a pic of one flying off with the world famous Blackpool Tower. Fortunately this mega-ginormous Herring Gull found the tower a little too heavy to carry far and soon dropped it.
The tides overnight had left the beach looking very different to yesterday and there were hardly any shells to be found this afternoon. But unlike yesterday we did find a couple of tiny Green Shore Crabs exposed by a runnel at the base of the wall that was created overnight.
That little one was really feisty and quick and no more than about 3mm across!
Where to next? A day in the office tomorrow but no doubt we'll get out on to Patch 2 at least once.
in the meantime let us know who's trying to carry off what in your outback

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