Wednesday, 28 November 2018

It's murder out there

The Safari had a family day out and dogs walk around the dunes at Birkdale last weekend. mot much to report as as can be imagined on a Sunday afternoon there was a lot of disturbance. Most unusual was the number of Harebells still flowering, normally they are a mid to late summer flowerer so to see plenty of them still going strong at the end of November is a tad unusual to say the least and possibly something to to do with the hot dry summer followed by a fairly mild autumn.
Monday morning saw us on the beach for the first time in a while. Again we came across another rather unusual late November sighting, this time an Octopus Jellyfish. They are more usually associated with the summer months but can be found after rough weather more sporadically throughout the winter too.
Much less pleasing was the discovery of one then two then casting our eye along the beach almost two dozen dead young Lesser Spotted Catsharks. No doubt victims of the fishermen over the weekend. Further own the beach Monty had spotted (or more likely got a sniff of) something grey lying on the sand. At first we thought it was a sheet of plastic but getting closer soon realised it was  a dead Thornback Ray.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Monty and get him on his lead before he dropped a shoulder and rolled on it as is his wont with dead stuff. Good job we did too as he could have shredded and minced himself looking at those spines! A common enough creature in our waters and we find many of their Mermaid's Purse egg-cases but it wouldn't and probably didn't look out of place in the times of Jurassic Park 150 million years ago. Sad to see its life snuffed out. We witnessed a fishing match along the prom last weekend and have to say the cruelty we witnessed was shocking. Whatever happened to anglers respecting and being responsible for their catch and looking after the environment? We watched fish being dragged over the concrete sea wall rather than being lifted with a net as soon as they were able, others were left hooked on the dry ground or dangling from the mouth with their full body weight (not good for an animal that nver feels its own weight) for several minutes while the fishermen changed their leader and recast had a chat to their mates about their catch and only then got round to measuring it before unhooking it, often brutally, and then slinging it back over the wall in to the sea. surely the measure and release should be done first and the release could be much more gently done from the steps down to the beach - providing it's safe to descend them without risk of being washed in. The amount of fishing related litter left behind was shocking too; despite all the publicity surrounding plastic and its effect on marine life the message isn't getting through to some, or it is and they just don't care.
We used to do a lot of fishing but we think the rod n reel will be staying put in the garage now.
Anyway come Monday afternoon we had a wander round the nature reserve. Not a lot going on but to be fair we walked around the outside path peering in at all the former favourite Long Eared Owl roost spots to no avail - where are they? Are there even any here? Our walk took us along the caravan site bank where we had quick look from Dragonfly Den, the much improved view didn't give us any reward though. Our best sighting so far came in the form of two Little Grebes away across against the reeds on the far side from the unofficial 'under the big tree' view point - could do with a proper screen here as its a great spot to check out the gulls.
Frpm the  Fylde Bird Club hide we were told about two neck ringed Grey Lag Geese by MJ and BD. At first both were distant on the scrape with one out of site behind the reeds in the corner but after a while a flotilla sawm out and passed in front of us giving an opportunity to read the collars Orange PZP and PZS, birds from the Windermere study site.
From information received from WWT's KB they were ringed together in 2015 at Lake Windermere and are often seen together. They summer and presumably breed in the Lake District around Lake Windermere and then fly south a few miles to spend the winter around the Fylde and SW Lancashire.
Conscious of the time we pushed on passing a Water Rail and then a Cetti's Warbler calling unseen from the reeds below the embankment. But our plans to try to avoid the worst of the traffic were thwarted when we dropped off the embankment and in to the rough field. A movement of something pale to the left caught the corner of our eye and turning to see what it was we were face to face with a Barn Owl! It flew past us and over on to the island where although a bit distant did give us the opportunity to fire off a few (too) hasty shots in the gloom. It was our 99th species of the year at the nature reserve and 176th species in our Photo Year List Challenge. What will the 100th species be, Little Owl perhaps, a Long Eared Owl would be nice!, or something unexpected might just pop along. Shame the flurry of Bearded Tits passed our ever-so attractive reedbed by.
Yesterday found us mooching round the Rock Gardens in the gloom of a miserable late November day. A party of Long Tailed Tits is always guaranteed to brighten up proceedings.
We're not sure if we like Grey Squirrels or not. Half of us wish they were Red Squirrels and yet the other half is pleased that a great many folks get a great deal of pleasure seeing them and interacting with them in a positive way - that can't be bad can it?
Whatever your thoughts you can't get past the fact they're pretty darned cute.
Bits and bobs about too in the shape of a dozen Blackbirds, a Great Spotted Woodpecker left  the wooded area of the park and flew eastwards over the open ground towards CR's place, singles of Goldcrest and Coal Tit too. All went quiet when a Sparrowhawk tazzed through.
Nowt happening today, barely got a chance to look out of the window.

Where to next? A big safari to the south east tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know who's the cutest in your outback.

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