Friday, 22 January 2016

A look-see on the beach

The Safari has had a look through hundreds of rubbish pics of murmurating Starlings, this one is one of the few keepers, like we said that Peregrine needs to earn its keep and get them to bunch up tighter.
We've also been looking at some of the climate facts n figures for town now that the year has rolled on. It's important to realise that one place doesn't represent the whole planet so don't be going drawing any conclusions about your own neck of the woods from our figures.
We'll start with daily maximum temperatures - and we're only doing temperatures we don't have enough rainfall figures to do the comparisons.
Also be aware that we shouldn't be comparing 30 year time-spans with a 10 year time-span.
The most obvious thing is how similar the last 10 years have been to the late 20th Century - no sign of any warming. In fact if you look at August and are over 30 years old it's true that summers were warmer in the old days.
The daily minimum temperatures are completely different and we'd say statistically significantly so! Apart from March there's no overlap at all!
So why aren't the night-time temperatures leading to warmer daytime temperatures - cloudier so that more heat is trapped at night but also meaning the sunshine can't get through during the day??? Your guess is as good as ours as to what's going on. What's going to happen in the next 20 years, where will those green lines be then?
Today we had a look for the potential nestling-feeding Blackbird but it was nowhere to be seen in the heavy rain this morning. 
The sea was a washout early on we lasted only two minutes before deciding it was too wet and visibility too poor in the low drizzly cloud. Lunchtime was drier but now there was a crazy 'heat' haze going on - it was worse than summer! But we did feel a bit of warmth in the sun which helped make our mind up about getting down on the beach.
Wellies on and off down the steps we went.
The strong low sunlight was very harsh. We soon came across some of the goodies left by the ebbing tide. First onto the memory card was a clump of Hornwrack, looks like seaweed but is actually a Bryozoan, a tiny colonial animal - you can see the empty individual holes of each animal in the second pic
A few paces further on we found a Mermaid's Purse, the egg case of a Lesser Spotted Catshark, we didn't see it at the time but from processing the pic it looks like there might well be an embryo inside.
A movement in the nearest pool made us squint for a closer look and we saw a flock of a dozen Redshanks roosting up. They are wary birds and wouldn't allow a close approach, if we'd have had a bit more time we might have laid down an inched closer on our belly for better shots.
We pushed our luck an foot too far and they flushed up on to the wall some yards further down the beach.
We were now close to the reason we wanted a look on the beach in the first place. To have a look at what the pipe engineering works have left behind and it wasn't good. The beach sand level is well down and has exposed a large amount of rubble and shingle.
It doesn't bode well for our school groups coming down to investigate the rockpool wildlife. All the lower pools are filled with shingle. We don't allow the little ones to climb the wall for obvious reasons.
Where there was life has been scoured clean by the action of the shingle in the waves, the stonework has been scrubbed clean, even the Barnacles have been removed.
And if a rock is thrown higher up onto the Sabellaria mounds it doesn't do them any good at all, they act like grindstones.
To say we're not happy about this sate of affairs is a big understatement - how can it be rectified, the sea might be able to fill the pools very easily but it's not going to be able to get the stones out is it?
To take the edge off our extreme disappointment we continued to look along the strand line. 
It didn't take long to find something a little different, a Blunt Gaper - don't see too many of these so after getting pics we pocketed it for our collection.
Also found was a fresh Rayed Trough Shell, still with both its bivalve halves stuck together and still its original unbleached pink colour.
Pretty good for a 20 minute saunter, shame about the ecological calamity, that wasn't foreseen or mentioned in the Environmental Impact Assessment document we've got on our desk.
Where to next? We'll be somewhere out on safari at the weekend and then there's the small matter of another Goldfinch survey.
In the meantime let us know who's to timid for a close approach in your outback.

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