Oh I do like to be beside the Sea Side
words and pictures by Graham Stewart
With the recent spell of good weather what better excuse could there be for a little trip to the sea side to recharge the old batteries.
I also felt that it would be a good time to share a little of what the Great British coastline has to offer as all my previous offerings have been from near to my back garden or from the local woodland. I have to admit that I am a rank amateur when it comes to “twitching” so the first big challenge I faced would be to actually put names to some of the birds I found!
Unlike previous blog posts this is not going to be a full meet the model style, instead this will be a little taster of what you might find if you take a few moments to see what is going on around you.
Razorbill – A colonial sea bird that only comes to shore to breed. They mate for life and lay one egg per year. Lives on rocky coasts and nests in crevices. Dives from the surface to catch fish.
Sanderling – A small wader, very gregarious, feeds in flocks and picks molluscs, crustaceans and marine worms from the waves edge. Nests on the ground lays up to 4 eggs in 1 brood between May-July.
Ringed Plover – another small wader, eats insects and worms on the ground. Nests in a shallow scrape lined with grass or small pebbles. 2-3 broods between April – August. Up to 4 eggs.
Shag – ok call me juvenile but this always makes me chuckle 😉 I was very surprised my google search produced such clean results! The shag gets its name that both adults sport during the breeding season. Nests on heap of sticks or grass on cliff ledges or coastal caves, 1 brood in May produces 3-4 eggs. Dives from the surface for its main prey of herrings or sand eels.
Eider Duck – A large sea duck this is the heaviest and fastest flying ducks in the UK. Usually found in groups. Female is far drabber than the male as she needs to be camouflaged as she bares soul responsibility for incubation. Nests on the ground in a hollow lined with down (used to make VERY expensive duvets) 1 brood of 4-6 eggs in between April and June. Dives from surface to take molluscs or crustaceans.
Rock Pipit – A small bird, nests in cavity on the ground in a hair lined nest. 1-2 broods during April – July producing 4-5 eggs. Feeds on a diet of sand hoppers, insects and small molluscs.
Herring Gull – ok I am going to come right out and say it, this is probably my least favourite sea bird and with good reason. Not so long ago I was mugged by one that made off with my pasty! A large noisy gull, mainly found on sea cliffs in summer but can venture much further inland during winter where it can be found on refuse tips. Has 1 brood in May, lays 2-3 eggs. Diet of fish, molluscs, insects, PASTIES and other scraps left on the ground or discarded in to the sea.
Black Headed Gull – contrary to its name its head is actually more dark brown. Smaller and more agile than a herring gull. Habitat varies and is also commonly found on refuse tips due to the amply supply of food. Diet of fish, worms & insects. Nests on the ground 1 brood May – June and produces 2-3 eggs
© Graham Stewart 2019