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 2022
The Magpie ( Pica pica ) Words and pictures by Peter Hanscomb The Eurasian Magpie , more commonly known as just the Magpie ( Pica pica ) is a member of the crow family and undoubtedly one of the most intelligent and curious of all birds likely to visit our gardens. Magpies are deeply embedded…
The Mole , Talpa euopaea Moles are a regular visitor at the Meadow Hide , we have never seen one which is normal but the evident there , with their distinctive mole hills periodically appearing in the grass path to the hide. The mole is a small mammal that spends most of it’s life underground…
Slow worm , Anguis fragilis With long, smooth, shiny, grey or brown bodies, slow worms look very similar to a small snakes and can grow up to 50cm long. In fact the Slow worm is a legless lizard , and are quite harmless to humans. Slow worms like humid conditions and emerge from their hiding…
Great photos, where on the coast did you venture to if you don’t mind me asking?
These are all taken in the Scottish Highlands
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There are some amazing Scottish coastlines. I’ve only explored a short stretch of the North-East Scottish coast myself, when we visit family.
I have a trip planned in May to the east coast around Edinborough
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Edinburgh is a beautiful city, not explored the coast near Edinburgh. Mostly explored the coastline around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Although my favourite it Findhorn Bay (not been in years though).
Also just booked four weeks in the Canadian rockies.