Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Like a kid in a sweet shop - plus a word of caution

Fresh westerly breezes, mainly sunny.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Grasshopper warbler 1 unringed male was part of yesterday's ringing capture.
Cetti's warbler 1 male singing from "no swimming" pond this morning
Dragonflies around main pond comprised:
Broad-bodied Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Black-tailed Skimmer.
A nice selection of shots from Janet:
Broad-bodied Chaser

A worn and faded Green-veined White

Small Heath - also worn

Silver Y moth - at least this looks fresh

Male Reed Bunting, also looking fresh....
well, at least he looks like he's just had a bath.

Ocean Edge - high water 09:40 (MD)
Lapwing, the flock of returned birds has now swollen to three
Lapwings with an Oystercatcher 

Black-headed gull c110 resting on the last patch of uncovered mud c300m past the saltmarsh. But this juvenile was having none of it.
Juvenile Black-headed gull

This is where "like a kid in a sweet shop" comes in (do we still have sweet shops?). We are moving to spring tides, it will have been over a week since the tide last reached the rocky outcrop just south of the saltmarsh, and it was flushing out Sea Slaters. Sea Slaters are like wood lice on steroids, not just bigger but much faster. But not fast enough to escape this young gull, it catches three in this clip, the last one actually runs through the gulls legs before meeting its fate!
Nutmeged by a sea slater, but I think this gull has potential!

Heysham skear - low water 16:50
I actually went down early (14:30) to see the birds before they moved on to the outer skear, but the tide was ebbing quickly and the outer skear was exposed before I got to the middle skear. Even so the mix of birds was the same, hundreds of large gulls, mainly Herring, plus Oystercatchers and c30 Curlew.
Great Crested Grebe 6 (2 pair plus 2 individual birds)
Little grebe 4
Eider 1 - quite a striking male in eclipse 
Male Eider in eclipse, with an equally striking backdrop 
This is just a clip of the Eider when it took to the water.

This is the word of caution - it is becoming increasingly difficult walking on the skear, the old honeycomb worm beds, always weak, have now lost their structure under the mussel beds. It's like walking over rhubarb crumble half a metre deep. The top is crunchy but you just sink through it. Plus half a metre is only because I pick my path carefully, there are areas where the crumble is over a metre deep. It's not dangerous as such, but it makes walking slow and hard work and very few places where you can actually stop without sinking down. I wouldn't want to be walking off with the tide coming in quickly.
This is towards the end of the middle skear, where the sea is claiming back the beds.
The top of this bed is the level of the surface beyond, this is over half a metre above 
the pool I'm standing in, the pool is half a metre deep and the skear bottom another
half metre below that. You can see the tide action is peeling back the mussel carpet.
I suspect the next storm is going to change things radically.

If you are going out to the skear, go when the tide is ebbing and stick to the skeer edges which tend to have less sediment build up.