Sunday, 10 July 2016

Still a bit bloody out there, could be all those spears

The Safari and Wifey had a pleasant walk along the northern Prom the other evening. The tide was out and all the birds, almost exclusively gulls and Oystercatchers were spread far and wide across the mud flats. The sun shone patchily but when it did it illuminated some of the plants very nicely, like this Horse Radish, which we tried a nibble of - it was very fiery!
Arty crop - luvin those leaf veins
On the seaside of the sea wall at the very top of the tide some vegetation is trying to re-establish itself. Mostly Marram Grass but here and there were  patches of Sea Rocket and one or two specimens of the lovely Sea Holly.
While looking for plants we decided to have a walk along the highest strand-line to see if there were any shells, or other marine life, of interest washed up. There was but it wasn't  a shell and it wasn't something we were wanting to find, a dead Kittiwake.
With the dead Harbour Porpoises last week, this week there seems to have been a little flurry of dead Gannets around the bay and now a deceased adult Kittiwake...hmmm we don't seem to have had too much atrocious weather, not much 'good' weather but nothing really stormy bad. Are there no fish out there this year or have the Bottlenose Dolphins eaten them all? There have been some trawlers operating in the bay but mostly well over the horizon on the far side of the shipping lanes, whether these would have an effect on local fish is unknown - how far do fish shoals move back and forth with the tides?
We took the sand dune path along the edge of the golf course on the way back to the car park. The uncut margin of the golf course was a fantastic sea of wildflowers, the yellow of Ladies Bedstraw dominating but interspersed with the pink of Rest Harrow and occasional blue of Harebells - it was a joy to behold and no doubt had it been a little warmer and a bit less windy it would have been buzzing with bees and other insects.
Our side of the fence had patches of Sea Bindweed, most of the flowers were closing up for the evening and we failed to find any open ones which still showed their delicate pink stripes.
Also here was a substantial patch of Spear Mint, the aroma from rubbing the leaves was powerful.
Being Scottish Wifey is drawn to thistles, not that she likes them as they are spiky but she often points them out and did so with this near perfect specimen of a Spear Thistle.
Getting too close to Spear Thistles can result in blood being drawn, they are very fiercely spined! Fortunately we were able to keep a safe distance but over the fence on the golf course there was blood of a different kind - Bloody Cranesbill, a nationally scarce plant and very local to sand dunes up here. Down in the midlands and inland parts of southern England it can be found but is almost definitely a garden escape there, these little (and some not so little) clumps are believed to be the genuine article.
And so ended a very pleasant hour or more wander and we still only managed to get no more than 300 yards from the car; it's amazing how slow you go when there's so much to look at/for.
Yesterday we were helping out at a family/children's event at the Nature Reserve's visitor centre. The weather was awful and that kept many folk indoors so we weren't quite as busy as perhaps the organisers would haved like but never the less it was steady with punters and they all enjoyed the activities on offer so we can't complain. 
At lunchtime one of the other volunteers went down to the nearby hide with her camera and came back beaming from ear to ear showing us a cracking full frame face of a Fox with a young Mallard in its mouth. Once the event was over we went down to the hid - just in was never really going to put in another appearance was it...but you have to hope and try!
A family came in and we turned round to speak to them and in doing so noticed a faint movement in the darkness above and just beyond the door. Earlier in the year there'd been a Blackbird's nest up there. Well it's still there and this is likely to be her third clutch/brood, we don't know if she was incubating our brooding young chicks.
Out on the mere there wasn't much action apart from a few Mallards and gulls coming and going to bathe.
 The reeds resonated to the sounds of a couple of Reed Warblers which sang continuously all the time we were there but we saw neither of them. We did get several superb views of a Cetti's Warbler going back and forth to a hidden nest on the reed/scrub interface - as far as we could tell from where it was dropping in. Don't think we've ever seen a Cetti's Warbler so often but not heard it, not a peep from it! No chance of any pics it was never still and was totally unpredictable in where it was going to appear next. In the absence of warbler pic opportunities we focused (pun intended) on the gulls passing overhead after leaving the water to go and roost on the swimming pool roof behind us.
Herring Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
And again
Where to next? Not sure what we'll find tomorrow but Patch 2 will be back in play
In the meantime let us know who's all bloody in your outback.

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