Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Barking, unplugged

A shameless bit of self-promotion to begin with: I've been interviewed (scary) by Nick Hand, on his journey round the UK's coast - have a look at for what he's up to, and follow the link through to the soundslides for yours truly... Under Slapton Bird Ringers... It's for a cracking good cause, and the photos on there are great.

So. Above and beyond some mumbling for the dictaphones, have been out and about taking some pics and generally keeping myself busy: here, in chronological order...

Scumbag ducks at Slapton. The bunch of ganky farmyard escapes at Torcross has recently been augmented by this delightful group (har har) of Rouén Mallards - great for feeding bread to - let's face it, fattening them up for Christmas on fresh bread is no bad idea - but not much cop for anything else. Sorry.

Osprey, Erme estuary. This is one of this year's birds, presumably born in Scotland. No colour-rings though to give any clue as to origin. Pity. Becoming a traditional sight on South Devon estuaries in September now; instead of getting excited about Ospreys, we seem to be agitated when we don't see them!

To my shame, I have forgotten what these are. I know they're the fruiting bodies of a seaweed, sorry, marine alga, but I don't know which one. Just as you get an autumn flush of fungi, you seem to get a marine copycat version

Snakelocks anemone growing in kelp.

Bryozoans growing on kelp.

Yacht heading up the Kingsbridge. Just nice and photogenic, really.

After a bit of low-tide learning on the Kingsbridge, it was time to do some more Dormouse training. Clearly, they've never read the books. In the wake of the very terrestrial dormouse I nearly squashed on a road in Slovakia, here's an example of the species demonsrating it's highly nocturnal habits:
We found two Dormouse nests (with three animals in 'em) in the specially-sited, designed and attended boxes placed low in their favoured habitat. After that, we cleaned out the specially designed, placed and attended boxes that have been erected for Pied Flycatchers, where we found no fewer than six (count 'em) Dormouse nests, containing at least eight Dormice... One of the nests was even built on top of a Pied Flcatcher nest, so we hope the birds got away first!

Following that, we headed off to East Sussex, where Na and Judith spent some time avoiding the Weever-fish of the south coast. Either that or swimming to France. Or doing a Reggie Perrin.

Here you can see the effects of the dangerously dehydrating Crassula helmsii, the Australian (or New Zealand) Pigmyweed, a plant so water-hungry that it leaves the entire Australian conitnent teetering on the brink of drought. The only solution is to cover it in gravel and allow deer in to nibble away the growing shoots - clearly impractical on a landmass as large as Australia. Or something.
In fact, the valley has a problem with invasive Crassula, as a result of which the scrapes have been drained and dried, to try and prevent it blanketing everything. Nasty invasive stuff.

Finally, for anyone out there who likes gulls, here's a rather odd-looking thing from Prawle on Tuesday. A Lesser Black-back with pink legs? Hybrid Great Black-back and Herring? Something rare? I don't really think I care any longer.

No flight shots; sorry.

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