Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
After lunch we had a soggy wander round patch 1 getting a pic of the Peregrine on the way and then having a look at the remains of a fungus we noticed a couple or three days ago - it's well past its best now but we think it is a species of Boletus due to the pores rather than it having gills - got a pic for later when we can download them off the camera.
That was all we could muster for today.
Where to next? Still got a couple of days off and with the promise of better weather the mothy might put in an appearance.
In the meantime let us know what it's normally like on a holiday weekend in your outback.
Sunday, 28 August 2011
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Friday, 26 August 2011
What would the 3-spined Sticklebacks left for us to find? During the pre-dip demo we showed how to fill the trays with water and inadvertently managed to catch the only Red Water Mite of the session.
It first appeared that there was not a lot other than snails in the pond. As usual the three common snails were quick to find their way in to the trays, Keeled Ramshorn,
Wandering Snail and Greater Pond Snail being the three. Then, as the children began to tire of these and the fish, they started to look more closely at their nets and out came numerous front-swimming Water Boatmen, Coxia sp. Two speedy Whirligig Beetles successfully evaded capture, probably by flying away as they seemed to vanish into thin air after being chased by several nets.
A damselfly nymph was found clinging to a piece of vegetation, probably a Blue Tailed Damselfly but this evening no-one caught the (only?) Common Darter dragonfly nymph.
Eventually a (the?) Common Ramshorn Snail was brought to the surface and the race was on to find something else a little more ‘out of the ordinary. One child broke the bank with this year’s only back-swimming Water Boatman, Notonecta sp. These can give a bit of a nip with that big strong and very pointy proboscis. For some reason they haven’t colonised until now, usually they are fairly numerous.
Think the last Gardening Club the youngsters attend before they go to college might well be a total trawl of the Sticklebacks from the pond to allow the invertebrates a chance to multiply and others to colonise.
This morning Patch 1 was very quiet but a little excitement came in the form of the juvenile Peregrine sitting round the back of the tower. When we were in the park we heard some Peregrine commotion going on but could see through the trees. Getting back underneath the tower the youngster was now sitting right at the top when the male swooped round doing two circuits before joining her, coming right over our head abut two house-heights above us – magical.
The drive in to work gave us a Wheatear on the grass around the base of the cenotaph whist waiting for the light to change – never seen one there before!
The sea on Patch 2 was well up the wall and other than a dozen or so fishing Sandwich Terns nothing was doing. Later, at lunchtime, they were still at it and we witnessed a bit of pair-bonding feeding with (presumably) a male carrying a Pipefish (?) to a waiting female sat on the water which she then took and ate.
In the distance we spotted the trawler Isadale and then back in the office discovered we could track it’s movements with this world-wide shipping site
Looks like she’s fishing commercially rather than doing fishery survey work, hope the skipper is steering well clear of our dolphins.
With no cetaceans to be seen the only mammals were two Grey Seals, one well to the south the other well to the north.
Where to next? Ooohhh a long holiday weekend to look forward to with some safari’s further afield planned, hopefully to include something with keeled scales.
In the meantime let us know what’s trawling through your outback.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Over the lake it was like Gotham City there were bats galore and the torches soon picked out the white bellies of Daubenton’s Bats as they skimmed low over the water. The detectors were buzzing with the numbers of bats present. The Boathouse is lit by several security lights and the white wall had three Old Ladies on it.
We tried the bridges to see if we could see any bats flying beneath us but the wind was being funnelled through them and there were none here. A Common Rustic (agg) found its way into the pot under the trees where a Pipistrelle and a Treecreeper were found roosting on last year’s walk.
Setting off down the very dark back of the park the bats dried up but we did have excellent views of the International Space Station as it went over about 220 miles above us...shame the astronauts aren’t going to get their new supplies this week; the Russian rocket didn’t reach them...oops.
The rest of the group went on over the road into the woodland area but we bottled out and opted for an early night and missing out on a Hedgehog and half a dozen Red Underwings drinking sap from the bark of an Oak tree.
This morning dawned very autumnal, chilly with a Robin singing at the end of the street. Not much else was about; another Robin and three Blackbirds at the Golden Triangle which has been a bit quiet recently, nothing of note in the park proper and a Sparrowhawk over the houses. No Peregrines on the tower again.
Out on patch 2 two Grey Seals were well separated, two flocks of Sanderlings whizzed southwards, 11 and 11, best bird of the short watch was a Teal also going south towards the estuary. A few Common Scoters bobbed about on the wavelets and one male was much closer in. Grabbing the camera we went to get some pics of him - a bit too far out - looks like we should have taken the little camera and digiscoped him.
For our lunchtime session only one of the Grey Seals was present but it did put on a ‘how to eat an enormous flatfish' show (probably a Plaice). There were a dozen or so Sandwich Terns fishing quite successfully not far off shore but precious little else or interest.
We were back on the beach later in the afternoon with another family group and didn’t they do well! Or at least didn’t they do differently to yesterday! They were rockpooling in the same place and managed to find totally different creatures. One of the first things caught was this Sea Gooseberry, the first seen since the spring, in the end they’d netted several of them.
Also collected today but not seen recently were several broken pieces of Sea Hearts aka Sea Potato a species of hairy rather than spiny Sea Urchin. After yesterday’s smallest ever Common Sand Star today we failed to find a single one.
It’s not only the Weaver Fish and jellyfish that can cause serious grief to the unwary barefoot brigade...and one of the main reasons our ‘elf n safety’ specifies shoes/wellies must be worn at all times...you really wouldn’t want to put your foot on those.
All in all yet another great day on the beach – and in blistering summer sunshine today rather than torrential rain...makes a refreshing change.
Where to next? Pond dipping this evening with yet another group
In the meantime let us know what’s reappeared in your outback
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Nothing to report at the Great Crested Nothing zone apart from we found a Brooklime plant growing in a corner of the field which has escaped the mower, must be a relic from when the area was much wetter than its now drained state. Great Latin name - Veronica beccabunga - where'd that come from?
The drive to work along the prom was dolphin free; as is the case 99.999999999999999% of the time...we also scoured the coastal blogs and websites to the north of us and found no mention of said dolphins...musta been a figment of our imagination???
Just as we were parking up we heard a Whimbrel calling, couldn’t see it/them from the driver’s seat and were concentrating on not reversing into the car behind. Later from our desk we heard a/some Curlew(s) going over too. A very quick look at the sea gave us a scattering of Common Scoters and a Grey Seal.
At lunchtime we had a similarly quick peek over the wall with AB but there was nothing happening apart from a solid wall of heavy rain rapidly approaching so we dashed inside just as the first drops were landing.
Not long afterwards, when the worst of the rain storm was over, we were out on the beach with gang of families. A soggy hunt through the rockpools ensued for an hour on a ‘typically’ cold and very wet summer’s afternoon.
Some pairs of Green Shore Crabs were wrangled along with a small Hermit Crab again in a Tower Shell. Another large Barnacle was found, hot on the heels of our first ever last week - this one stuck firmly on a Necklace Shell and a ton of Common Prawns netted.
A number of these anemones were found; these two were in the same pool and were about the biggest seen being around an inch (2.5cm) across. We think they are both Sagartiogeton undatus of different colour forms but are prepared to be corrected. Could do with a submersible camera - that'd help anyone trying to ID these underwater creatures.
Once back in the office we started to dry out uncomfortably. Not long before going home time we got an urgent call from the front desk – a Feral Pigeon had got in to the cafe and no-one was able to get it out...a job for a pigeon-wrangler extraordinaire, or the Safari, whoever was nearest. After a little coaxing it found its way through the open door to freedom, giving the solid windows a miss for a change – job done...who needs a pigeon-wrangler extraordinaire anyway.
Where to next? A real rarity treat later tonight; we’re joining a bat walk in the big park. We’ll also be taking the net and pots in case there are any moths to be found.
In the meantime let us know what’s got into your outback.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Later on, when out with Frank before bedtime, we could see just one Peregrine roosting on the ledge in the light from the street-lamps.
This morning we had to go Great Crested Newt mitigating again and again there were no newts to mitigate for. As we were nearing the end of our search we got a call from a former colleague who told us he’d just seen four Bottle Nosed Dolphins from where he was working on the promenade. He said they were heading northwards...Luckily we were well north of him and the contractors had turned up early so we could hand over the site (free of newts) to them and high-tail it to the coast. At the traffic lights we took a gamble and turned right heading further north, away from work. Oh boy, are we glad we did. We arrived at our destination and looked over the wall to see a huge flock of gulls hovering over massive splashes just to the south of us, what a bit of luck; we’d overtaken them!
Got the bins and camera out and filled our boots, they were about half a mile offshore and the ‘four’ were now counted as 12 with at least two smaller juveniles. Steadily they followed the Mackerel right up to the only angling boat out at the time – those lads must have had unbelievable views, probably even got wet from the splashes. From where we were we could see some of the fish being chucked out of the water by the bow waves the dolphins were making. Apologies to Monika for the comment on the vid; we appreciate she has had some truly awesome sightings of Orcas recently but she does see them regularly and this was totally unprecedented for our coast.
After all that excitement we weren’t really expecting any more. But come it did...
At lunchtime on Patch 2 we watched a flock of eight Ringed Plovers fly past, a long-awaited year bird for the patch (P2 #67) with a ninth a minute or so behind them. A bit of relief there; was beginning to think we might not get any this year...a scary thought.
Scanning around it was clear, very clear and flat calm in fact, that there wasn’t much about other than about a dozen or so Sandwich Terns buzzing up and down the shoreline. But then we hit another ‘H’ in the middle distance – knock us over with a feather - a Harbour Porpoise! We watched as it rolled several times before disappearing under the surface for good...or so we thought...a few scans later and it reappeared surfacing a few more times before slipping quietly away never to be seen again...superb, brilliant and other expletives – two species of cetacean in one day!!! We then had a little chuckle as by now we had seen more cetaceans today than Common Scoters...that bizarre statistic wasn’t to last :( as we found a small flock of about 200 Common Scoters out in the far distance and in front of them a single Grey Seal.
Where to next? Not sure how we’re going to top that but you just never know what the patches are going to throw your way.
In the meantime let us know what’s doing the splashing in your outback.
Monday, 22 August 2011
Then Patch 2 didn’t really deliver despite excellent watching conditions; just a dozen or so Sandwich Terns bimbling back and forth out at sea and a handful of Common Scoters. Most unusual sighting of the morning was of a party of three Grey Wagtails going north overhead.
Continuing the ‘G’ theme the only sighting of note at lunchtime was a Grey Seal bottling 50 yards offshore unseen or at least un-noticed by the throngs of holiday makers on the beach.
Blistering sunshine today and it really felt like summer had arrived...at last. But tomorrow is another day and the return of grey skies is a distinct possibility.
Great day for English cricket though...A whitewash sure ain't grey!
Where to next? Yet more patchy stuff
In the meantime let us know who’s on the winning streak in your outback
Some pics from the ‘sunny day’ folder aka stuff wedidn't use on Saturday...