When the rain finally abated mid afternoon, I went to vote and then headed down to the seaside, to clear my head with some fresh air. The tide was out so I couldn’t resist having a brief fossick along the beach. It’s a stony shore and there are never many shells to be found but I did find a few nestled amongst the stones.
I found this egg case on the beach at Cuckmere Haven a week or so ago. With such a leathery, tough outer skin, it’s easy to see how well this could protect the embryo that must once have been inside.
I checked the Shark Trust website’s identification page and, given the south coast location, I think this eggcase might belong to a ray, perhaps a Spotted ray (Raja montagui) or an Undulate ray (Raja undulata).
I’m not sure where the name Mermaid’s purse came from – perhaps it’s simply because the eggcases come from the sea, are vaguely purse-shaped and hold something valuable inside them.
Storm Hannah has been making her presence felt since yesterday evening and, though the sun came out late morning, the wind is still blowing a gale. I headed down to Cardiff Bay to see if the storm had blown any interesting birds in but found nothing unusual – in fact, very few birds at all were braving the weather. So, I tootled along to the beach at the base of Penarth Head cliffs, where it was a little more sheltered, and there I found a new fossil – always a bonus! – and this cute little ground beetle plodding purposefully along amongst the detritus, not at all interested in having its photo taken.
I caught the bus to Sully this morning, walked along to the western end of the bay, then retraced my steps and walked along the coastal path all the way back to Penarth, about 7½ miles in total. And it was superb, especially the stroll along Sully Bay. I’d timed my walk to be there just before high tide, as that often pushes the birds up closer to the path that runs along the top of the beach, and this was a high high tide so, with some stealthy sneaking along behind the trees, I managed to get really close to a flock of six Whimbrels.
And, to my delight, the Whimbrels had two Bar-tailed godwits with them. I’ve never managed to get so close to either species before so I was really chuffed. And, if you’re wondering why the godwits don’t look the same, the bird on the left (below) is a male in his summer breeding colours, while the bird on the right might be a juvenile or a non-breeding adult.
Who was it that invented the collective nouns we use for birds? Whoever it was, they came up with some crackers, though it’s hard to see the reasoning behind some of them. A cluster of Turnstones I can understand, as they do like to huddle together at times, but a bind, a contradiction and a time-step? I suppose they do look like they’re doing a little rhythmic dance at times.
The two in my photos were part of a small cluster of seven picking and poking amongst the stones on the Ely embankment this morning when I started my walk around part of Cardiff Bay.
After the rain and low cloud cleared late morning, I headed to the seaside for the afternoon, to Barry, a short train ride west along the south Wales coast. Despite the chilly wind blowing in off the sea, the day was glorious and I walked around the Knap, the Old Harbour, the beach at Barry Island and then along the old docks to catch the train home. The tide was out so it was a good time to check the now-silted-up Old Harbour for birds and I was delighted to spot this Little egret puddling about in one of the channels, trying to stir up something for its lunch. Such an elegant bird.
As part of this morning’s local meander, I went for a beachcomb at the base of the cliffs at Penarth Head – not too close to those cliffs as they’re continually shedding small stones and occasional larger boulders but it’s safe enough nearer the water’s edge when the tide’s going out. I didn’t linger long as people arrived to run their dogs, sending sand and stones everywhere. However, I did find this little beauty before they arrived – a fossilised seashell I think.
p.s. My fab Facebook friend Mark says that the only ‘Jurassic bivalve with that pattern in my books is something called Oxytoma inequivalvis’, so now we have a name. Thanks, Mark.
Another day, another bird club trip, this time to Kenfig pool (where we had the Slavonian grebe and the Great white egret), to Porthcawl (first Cattle egrets of the year), and to Newton Point (first Purple sandpipers, but no Black redstart today). It was a cracking day’s birding but rather rainy much of the time so the camera didn’t come out often and my best shot of the day was of this juvenile (1st year) Herring gull who was pleading with us to share our sandwiches as we sat on the seawall at Porthcawl. It was out of luck!
The sun goes down on an absolutely magnificent day, a 12-hour day of birding at Whiteford Point and Llanrhidian Marsh, a long walk with 33 fellow birders from the Glamorgan Bird Club in stunning Welsh scenery, seeing some wonderful birds and adding 16 new species to my 2019 year list, catching up with friends, enjoying good conversations and sharing some laughs – life doesn’t get much better!
It may have been grey and occasionally mizzling but that didn’t stop me enjoying a fabulous walk back from Sully beach to Penarth today. A tribe of 30 Turnstones flew in, as did 4 Grey plover and a little Dunlin friend; Rock pipits were flitting to and fro; there were 27 Curlew grazing on the playing fields – always a treat to watch; and I saw my first Kestrel of the year, perched on a high wire, watching. I did feel a little sorry for this Grey heron though, being harassed by a juvenile gull (Herring, I think).