Archive | February 2016

Shore note

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Above. One of the Rockling species, caught today during an angling competition. Whiting were coming in but there did not seem to be many Flatfish at the Hastings Beach. I was told that a strong Easterly wind like today’s (and a bone-chiller at that) is not good for them.

In the dry but very cold conditions bird passage was negligible. A party of three Oystercatchers flying East. Otherwise two Great crested grebes and later in the day a party of ten grebes appeared resting on the sea close inshore at the Marina. They were drifting westwards with the surface current. With the mild winter very few of this species has been present offshore.

 

 

 

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Early Spring

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Tiger Scallop Palliolum tigerinum

Cold nights continue with hard frosts reported again from inland areas. Cold weather at this time of very early Spring appears to be effective at discouraging up-Channel bird passage here, even though atmospheric pressure is good and weather conditions are otherwise fair.

 

However, the Tawny Owls have been very vocal near my window during recent nights and the local Crows and Jays have been agitated during the mornings.

Above. A Tiger Scallop shell from St Leonards beach. This mollusc is widespread off Western Britain but there are records also along the Eastern coasts.

In with the tide

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A cold night inland and there was little sign of bird passage at high tide during the early afternoon, save a party of eleven Brent geese and two Common gulls which passed up-Channel.There was a gentle swell on the sea and anglers were catching Flounders and Plaice that were coming in with the sea.

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Plaice Pleuronectes platessa

Bulverhythe beach

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Bulverhythe beach

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Bulverhythe beach

 

The tide is out but peering down at the shifting streams of fresh and salt water pouring at a great speed onto the silty sand from the under fringe of the shingle beach I see thousands of tiny fragments of material being channelled down to the sea.

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A collection of cockle shells over the winter. Most are the Prickly Cockle Acanthocardia echinata but here also a Common Cockle Cerastoderma edule (5). Numbers (3) and (4) I am not sure about, their channels are wide and lined with striations and appear therefor distinctly different.

No sign of seabird passage again today. On the bus home a Peregrine was a fine sight hunting close to Bexhill fire station. I took the new route through the bypass to Hastings.

Some colour from Greece

Five thistles of the Aegean

  1. Echinops spinosissimus

Samos. July 2015.

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Echinops spinosissimus

Echinops spinosissimus

 

The leaves are remarkable, with almost flag-like triangles running off the edge of enormous straight spines. The flowers are light blue. The stems are distinctive, naked and coloured a rich ochre.

Rocklands and hard roadsides including hill paths as well as sea level. A flower of high summer.

 

 

  1. Carthamus dentatus

Samos. July 2015

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Carthamus dentatus

 

 

Another thistle of high summer, here seen growing during June and flowering then in July. The fine silken white hairs and glaucous foliage complement the light pink flowerheads. This fallow field had a special character of plants and insects. As with many plots the appearance was distinctive as each field has its’ history of grazing and other farming.

 

  1. Cardopatium corymbosum

Samos July 2015

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Cardopatium corymbosum

 

A striking deep blue flower in a phryganic dome of spines, this summer thistle is often found in plant communities of rocky land in proximity to the sea. Here shown growing along with Sarcopoterium, Thymus and Limonium on very hot south facing coastal rock outcrops. Incidentally this habitat has a great diversity of Grasshoppers and Crickets in summer.

 

  1. Notobasis syriaca. The Syrian Thistle.

Kos May 2011.

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Notobasis syriaca

 

 

A common annual flower of the spring on lowland cultivations such as this fallow field. Quite tall and erect, the flower bracts tinged purple.

 

  1. Scolymus hispanicus. The Spanish Oyster Plant.

Samos. July 2015.

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Scolymus hispanicus

 

The tap root of this summer flower is edible, the plant being cultivated for thousands of years. Here growing in fallow with Verbascum.

Shore note

Quite cold with a south-easterly wind and overcast, yet no sign of early wildfowl passage again during a walk to Galley Hill.

The low tide revealing some very raw yellow sandstone pavement on the beach, contrasting strongly with the blue clay, grey silty sand and old, encrusted sandstones.

Cheering bright yellow from a small patch of Coltsfoot flowering on the top of the beach. Yellow-horned Poppy leaves showing along the crests.

A shell of the Netted Dog Whelk  Nassarius reticulatus amongst others along the tideline.

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February storms

Today there was still a strong swell coming onto the beach, even though the severe gales abated two days ago and the wind was sometimes north of west. The beach has been completely re-profiled by the force of the waves and looks quite smooth and neat.

At the town the shingle is almost as high as the promenade whereas there is usually a steep drop.

No sign of seabird movement although a Shag flew west close in, seemingly an adult or near adult missing one or two wing feathers.

Below Monday’s rough seas with the gale strongest through the morning. The wind had gone WSW after Sunday’s strong SW gusts and perhaps this meant there was less impact right on the coast.