Sunday 17 October 2021

Sea "turf" wars and samphire

Light SSE breeze all day, the rain alternating between drizzle and quite heavy.

Red Nab to saltmarsh area - high water 10:15
First an update from yesterday, a check by Pete located:
Mediterranean gull 7 - 5 adult plus a 2nd and 1st calendar year 

Today (MD)
Little Egret 7
Grey Heron 1
Pink-Footed goose 16 low to south
Wigeon 87 - most on Red Nab
Mallard 6 - this is where the "turf wars" come from, the Mallard cleared away the few Wigeon that were out from the saltmarsh. Not sure why the Lesser Blacked-Backed gulls joined in, they probably thought the affray was over food.

Lapwing 78 on the saltmarsh 
Kestrel 1

There was only one flock of mixed waders on the mud out from the saltmarsh, mixed both in species and habit, some feeding some just resting.
Knot 250
Grey Plover 12
Dunlin 40+

There were a scattering of gulls on the mud, with equally scattered Redshank.
Mediterranean gulls 3 adult or 3rd calendar year - in this short clip a Mediterranean gull is at the back with a Common and a Black-Headed gull in front. This individual has an under pronounced "mask", making its face look similar to a BHG. But the white wing tips and distinctive bill give it away (apologies to the birders out there, but many post readers ask about identifying Meds, particularly in winter plumage MD).

Linnet at least 35 - it was raining quite heavily at this time and there could easily have been more. Yesterday there were at least 50 and I will share a video of them shortly, but I was a bit confused yesterday (plus a bit embarrassed at my ignorance), here's why.....
Marsh Samphire (known as "samfer" to locals) - I have known this plant since I was a child, and I have just regarded it as a delicate tasting succulent. But yesterday this is what the Linnet were feeding on, so today I went to have a closer look. The picture below shows the three stages on Samphire out from the saltmarsh at the moment.
The plant on the left is most reminiscent of the Samphire I'm familiar with, but in summer the
stems are also succulent. I now realise that the remaining green at this stage are seed pods.
The pods have withered further on the middle plant, but it is the stage on the right where the
seeds must become available, and this is what the Linnet are feeding on.
The size difference of these specimens is just coincidental, all sizes of each stage are available.

There isn't much Samphire on the saltmarsh itself, it grows around the fringes. This clip shows some of the Linnet landing  just out from the saltmarsh and start to feed.

In this next clip, you can see all the three stages of Samphire that I have pictured above. It is clear that the Linnet are feeding on the third stage.
So, you live and learn. I'd never even thought of Samphire providing seeds, but what else do plants do! When I looked into it, Samphire seeds are listed as a favourite of Twite, perhaps the vagaries of Samphire could be part of the shift in local Twite behaviour? (MD)

Middleton Nature Reserve 
I just checked the main ponds on my way home, mainly to see if the saltmarsh Mallard could have come from here. Sure enough, six Mallard were "missing".
Mute unchanged
Mallard 4
Gadwall 27
Coot 1

Kevin had a good moth in his moth trap last night:

An uncommon migrant moth - Palpita vitrealis.

I say uncommon but it's the third I've had in consecutive years! My site seems to be a magnet for them.