Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Beach Life

Had a great break down in North Devon over easter, staying at the inlaws. I managed to combine some great family days out with some PSL activity, particularly during a couple of beach visits. There are some great beaches along the North Devon coast, with long stretches of sand and dunes with some good rock-pooling opportunities at either end. Our first full day wasn't the best weatherwise, but we headed over to Westwood Ho! beach and whilst the boys and their cousins were happily playing I ambled over to the rocks and boulders.

I wasn't exactly equipped for rock-pooling, just some pots, hand lens, penknife, camera and generalist field guide. Didn't take long to find interesting things though, just by watching patiently or tuning over rocks. There were lots of shelled molluscs including a few new for me, plus good numbers of anemones. Mainly the expected Beadlet Anemone, but also a good few of these ...

Strawberry Anemone - new for me, can't think where the name comes from

Another one I was pleased to find was my first chiton. These are odd looking things - they appear like colourful legless woodlice from above and you may think that they are crustaceans, but from below they are clearly molluscs.

Lepidochitona cinerea

I could have picked up a whole host of shelled molluscs to show the huge variation in size and colour of some species, but I picked out a few that were clearly different species to each other and some of these were new for me like ....

Thick Top Shell (Osilinius lineatus)

Flat Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata)

Flat Top Shell (Gibbula umbilicalis)

Aside from the expected marine stuff, I also found a springtail way out in the rock pools and well away from the dry area inshore from the high-tide line.

Anurida maritima

This very hardy springtail is hydrophobic thanks to the body hairs, and these also entrap air which allows it to withstand being submerged for up to two days. How hard is that!

Away from the beach, I picked up a couple of ticks from the inlaws garden.

Bank Vole - not sure how I've managed to not actually see one alive before

Bristly Millipede - massive coincidence to find this on a bright-whitewashed wall of an outhouse as we'd been out at Arlington Court all day and I'd been failing to find this on the old stone walls and buildings.

The other beach we visited was Woolacombe, and it was a much brighter and sunnier day. Again I managed to spend some time around the rockpools and add a few things to the list ..

Pepper Dulse

Elminius modestus - a naturalised barnacle, unusual in having only four plates

Greenleaf Worm (Eulalia viridis)

Speckled Sea Louse (Eurydice pulchra)


Andrew Cunningham said...

It was good to read about some stuff from Devon. Not seen a Bank Vole for sure as they often move too fast. That Speckled Sea Louse looks fantastic, wherabouts was it please?


Skev said...

Hi Andrew,

Yes, Bank Voles were very busy - lots of missed or blurry shots as they poked their heads in and out of holes in a wildflower bank before dashing out into the grass and across to a walled area. Haven't seen them here before but usually lots of munched hazlenuts in the garden.

The Speckled Sea Louse is from Woolacombe - very small, lots of them skitting about the surface of a shallow pool left by the receding tide amongst the rocks. On the north end of the beach at approx SS4548743836.

Andrew Cunningham said...

Brilliant, thanks for that Mark. I shall be up in that area fairly soon and shall have a look for them as well as any rock pools before then.

All the best,