Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Big influx

The Safari didn't manage to get out yesterday, totally thwarted by adverse weather early morning and at lunchtime. In between we were working in the garden with our volunteers but neither heard nor saw owt of note or interest other than a few chunky Eristalis tenax hoverflies still taking advantage of any sunshine on the Caster Oil plant flowers.
If there were any passing Leach's Petrels, as there was across the bay, we had no chance of getting out to look for them in the driving rain and high tide sploshing over the wall. The Black Browed Albatross seen 'just round the corner' the other day turned south rather than north ending up doing a tour of the Scilly Isles and far west Cornish coast. B*gger!
This morning was much brighter and our quick visit to the sea wall gave us a horde of Lugworm diggers down at the low tide. We do worry about the amount of worms these guys take. One took eight in five minutes which works out at 96 an hour or nearly 200 in the two hours the tide is that low and he was one of a dozen diggers which is nearly 2500 worms and they and others will have been out on other low tides this week so x7 is getting on for the best part of 20000 worms lost out of the ecosystem. How sustainable is this considering it is now spawning season for them? Indeed there is a survey for you to get involved with going on right now! Is there any regulation by anybody, has anybody ever even considered any regulation? However, it would seem that they have a high capacity for recovering this amount of loss and the beach here is huge so there will be plenty of unworked areas with worms but it does beg the question how does removing this amount of food from the ecosystem affect other species, for example the rapidly declining Curlew, not to mention the impact of disturbance from several humans in (often) bright clothing on birds that need to feed during the low tide period. Having said that the gulls, which admittedly are much less bothered about humans than many other species, approach quite close but ignore the buckets full of worms preferring to find their own food. The Oystercatchers too, although much more wary than the gulls, don't seem to be over bothered by the presence of people, perhaps it's because they don't move quickly or far and have apparently predictable movements.
Talking of Oystercatchers this morning there were a lot more than we've seen in recent weeks, well over 500 within our patch and many more further south towards the river. Sanderlings too were numerous with at least 300 of them with about 50 Dunlin mixed in with them. By far the most waders we've seen for a long time.
The sea was choppy so getting an accurate estimate of the numbers of Common Scoters out there was impossible and other than a small flock of Cormorants we didn't see anything else.
This afternoon we were able to grab a few minutes and have a bash at getting some pics of the hoverflies before the sun went round and cast the bush in to shade.
Where to next? More Patch 2 gawping tomorrow, the wind should have died down a bit by the morning so searching through the Common Scoter flock for an odd one out might be a bit easier.
In the meantime let us know who's ransacking your outback without a care in the world.


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