"For now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see" Neutral Milk Hotel.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Calm - at last

What great weather today - just about the first this year with little or no wind at all and, until early afternoon, bright and sunny. I bumped into Phil first thing and after a brief look at the sea (perhaps 8 summer-plumaged Great Crested Grebes, 2 Red-throated Divers, a drake Eider and a single redhead Red-breasted Merganser) and around us from Gore Point (about 200 Brent Geese on the shore, 2 Greenshank on Lavender Marsh and a Barn Owl hunting over the grazing marshes) we walked along the beach from The Saltings to the Harbour mouth, noting various creatures along the way. We found:

Buccineum undatum
Sting Winkle
Ocenabra erinaceus
Blunt Gaper
Mya truncata
Horse Mussel 
Modiolus modiolus
Edible Mussel
Mytlus edulis
Thick Trough Shell
Spisula solida
Edible Periwinckle
Littorina littorea
Slipper Limpet
Crepidula formicata
Common Cockle
Cerastoderma edule
Black/Variegated Scallop
Chlamys varia
White Piddock
Barnea candida
Dog Whelk
Nucellus lapillus
American Jack-knife Clam
Ensis directus
Baltic Tellin
Macoma baltica
Pullet Carpet Shell
Tapes corrugata
Banded Carpet Shell
Tapes rhomboides
Common Oyster
Ostrea edulis


Sea Urchin
Psammechinus miliaris

plus at least 3 species of Bryozoans, yet to be identified, and a large sponge of some sort.

Far offshore were two huge rafts of Common Scoter which we estimated, very approximately, held some 5000-7000 birds - by some margin the most we've seen all winter. A closer group of about 200 birds held at least three Goldeneye and one Velvet Scoter which obliged by flying along the shore as soon as I set my scope up on the flock. As we set of back, an adult Mediterranean Gull, already attaining the black head of its it summer plumage, flew over us towards the shoreline. We returned via the track above Broadwater (noting several Winter Stalkballs) and then along the main entrance track. I suggested we checked the wet splashes and pool edges for Water Pipits and as I set the scope up Phil said 'here's one !' . To our amazement, a well-marked Water Pipit gave great views (rare here, though the birds are likely to be much less rare than the few sightings suggest) until it flew off high, in silence, out onto the grazing marshes. It was companied by 3 Pied Wagtails - an amazing tally if we ignore last night's 34 which flew west over the pools, presumably towards an unidentified roost.

New Plants in flower were Common Chickweed and Alexanders and I identified a new (though extremely abundant) moss - Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus. A Chinese Water Deer was in its favoured spot in the field by the reserve entrance mid-afternoon. 

Springy Turf-moss Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, Holme NWT, 10th February 2014

Water Pipit, Holme NWT, 10th February 2014

Water Pipit, Holme NWT, 10th February 2014

Alexanders, Holme village, 10th February 2014

Two unidentified Bryozoans, Holme NWT, 10th February 2014

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