Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Lyme Regis Rocks...

After the success of our rock pooling session at Lyme Regis recently, I returned with my son on Bank Holiday Monday to try our luck once more. I wouldn't normally venture out onto the roads on a Bank Holiday in the summer but as low tide was quite early we decided to be there two hours before its peak to catch the pools left by the retreating sea. It was a good decision, the car park was mostly empty, it was a beautiful sunny morning and we got to see the pools before the masses descended.

Highlights included...

Stranded Barrel Jellyfish - seen better days
Two more Hermit Crabs...

Hermit Crab, Lyme Regis
Hermit no. 2 - both quite large individuals
Brown Shrimp Crangon crangon
Shanny Lipophrys pholis
Snakelocks Anemone Anemonia viridis
Must admit, apart from the more easily identifiable seaweeds I find them a little difficult to put a name to. There are so many of them and few good sources for ID'ing them - so here are some of the common species:

Gutweed Ulva intestinalis
Sugar Kelp Saccarina latissima
Irish Moss Chondrus crispus
Oarweed Laminaria digitata
Cuvie Laminaria hyberborea - similar to Oarweed
but with a rough stipe that snaps when flexed
Flat Top Shell Gibbula umbilicalis
Acorn Barnacle Semibalanus balanoides
Common Limpet Patella vulgata
Common Periwinkle Littorina saxatilis
Common Piddock Pholas dactylus
Also a couple of hoverflies that posed for pics:

Eristalis tenax
Syrphus sp.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Rock Pooling...

After a remarkable morning sea-watching at Seaton (12 Cory's Shearwaters was exceptional and totally unexpected), I took my son Jake rock pooling on the low tide at Lyme Regis just along the coast into Dorset.

Jake's shown a bit more interest in wildlife since we caught dozens of Shore Crabs at Dartmouth a few weeks ago so I thought I'd 'strike while the iron is hot' and try to cultivate his interest in marine animals - a great place to start his foray into natural history.

Shore Crab, Dartmouth: R.Harris
Shore Crab, female - Dartmouth: R.Harris
Lyme Regis is a beautiful English seaside town and unfortunately the rest of the country seems to agree with that making it an extremely difficult place to visit and park on a summer's day. Taking the Park 'n' Ride wasn't an option with all of our gear and luckily we managed to secure what appeared to be the last space in the car park on the western side of the town, close to the rock pools. We arrived on the retreating tide to find the area already awash with people doing exactly the same thing - so we set about finding anything we could.

Rock Samphire, a common umbelifer
along the coast at the moment.
Field Bindweed adds a splash of pastel colour
Common Periwinkle Littorina littorea
Flat Top Shell Gibbula umbilicalis
Dog Whelk Nucella lapillus, yellow form
Common Limpet Patella vulgata
Best of all was this fantastic little Hermit Crab Pagurus bernhardus - very shy though, didn't want to come out of its shell any further than this.

Hermit Crab Pagurus bernhardus, peeping out
of its Periwinkle home
Green Leaf Worm Eulalia clavigera
We also found masses of Snakelocks Anemones, by far the most common species at Lyme although one or two Bead Anemones were also spotted.

Snakelocks Anemone Anemonia viridis
Normal bright green variety with purple
tips to the tentacles
Snakelocks Anemone Anemonia viridis
Snakelocks Anemone Anemonia viridis
Brown variety, thought by some to be a different species
Found lots of different seaweeds too - rock pools are a riot of colour when you look closely...

Serrated Wrack Fucus serratus
Very common along the lower shore region
Serrated Wrack Fucus serratus
Oarweed  Laminaria digitata
Sugar Kelp Saccharina latissima
Sea Lettuce Ulva lactuca - looks a bit sad out of water
Not sure what this one is but will
endeavour to find out.
Not sure about this one either - still learning!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Least expected...

So, this week was a family break. Time away from our humdrum home life looking after my wife's grandmother. A time to relax, chill and spend some quality time with Jane and Jacob. Thankfully we had exactly that with a few days kicking about in Dartmouth, South Devon. That was until yesterday when I checked Birdguides on my phone and found the words 'Least Sandpiper still showing very well at Black Hole Marsh (BHM), Seaton'. Black Hole Marsh is about 12 miles from where I live and although the pressure was off to some degree (I've seen many in Canada and only two weeks ago I saw four Least Sandpipers in Churchill, Manitoba but far too distant for photos unfortunately). Nevertheless I've only seen one Least Sand in the UK before, so I was keen to connect with this one.

A tense 24 hours later and we were heading back home when I broke the news that I'd like to divert to Seaton en route. To my surprise they agreed to drop me at BHM and head off to explore the new Jurassic Centre in Seaton, leaving me to get my fill of this tiny little wader, and a gem of an adult it is too. It was feeding quite happily about 15 ft away on the other side of the slatted boardwalk leading out to the site's Island Hide. Brilliant views were had but difficult to photograph and film without getting a green cast from the algae covered wood filling most of the viewfinder. That said I'm pleased with the results.

Least Sandpiper, Adult showing the yellowish legs,
short primary projection, nice supercilium and dark-
centered mantle and scaps that age it  : R. Harris
Least Sandpiper - rarely get views this
good in Canada! R. Harris
Least Sandpiper: R. Harris
Least Sandpiper: R. Harris
Dave Helliar saw it the day before and got some great photos of the Least and the long-staying Wood Sandpiper too.

Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar
Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar
Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar
Wood Sandpiper: D. Helliar
Apologies for the video too which was hand held and taken through the slats of the boardwalk (had to colour correct in editing as best I could to loose the greenish hue from the algae covered wood):