Saturday 28 May 2022

Seed mussels beefing up

Light winds NNW initially moving to WNW by lunchtime. Sunshine pretty much all day.

Heysham Nature reserve (MD)
Just a stroll around with family groups as part of  "Family Day". Nothing unusual but quite a lot to see and hear.
Little Egret 1
Moorhen 2
Willow Warbler 
Reed Warbler 
Common Whitethroat 

No dragonflies but lots of Damselflies including:
Large Red
Common blue tail
Azure Blue

Brimstone 1 male
Peacock 1
Common Blue several 
Small Heath several
Burnet Companion moth several

Heysham skear -low water 17:50 (MD)
Eider just 10
Great Crested Grebe 3 - sorry about the jerky nature of this clip, I was stood on shifting sands, but I like it as it shows the grebe raising its "great crest"
Little Egret 6
Curlew 2
Ringed Plover 6 (one flock)
Three of the Ringed Plover, trusting their camouflage 

Herring Gull 1,000+ this clip shows some of one of the two main groups, they are just moving to the emerging outer skear.

They are still feeding on the seed mussels, but life isn't quite as easy as it was. This is how the seed mussels were when the gulls started feeding on them. This shot is the 13th May (note my hand still in winter plumage).
Note how all the seed mussels are similar sized and small

This is how they look today, surprisingly this is the first day out here this year that I haven't felt the need for my mitts. 
They are now variable in size, the larger ones to the right of my finger are the remaining earlier seed
mussels the smaller ones are newer seed mussels that have filled the gaps over the intervening weeks

This has two effects for the Herring Gulls, first the larger seed mussels are now too robust to be crushed open in their gizzard. Meanwhile the stronger threads the larger mussels use to anchor their position, also help to anchor the smaller mussels making it more difficult to detach them. On the plus side for the gulls, even the smaller mussels are larger than the earlier seed mussels and will contain a lot more protein.
These were today's gulls teasing out their meals.