The day after the day before

It’s been far too long since my last post, life has been frenetic resulting in little or no time for WP’ing. But I’m back now and after I’ve completed this post I shall be taking a grand tour of all your blogs that I’ve been  neglecting recently!

In my last post I mentioned the frigid weather conditions prevailing on top of the cliffs at Bempton back at the end of February. But the day after that clifftop adventure was bright, sunny and warm, and we were up on top of Flamborough Head, just a few miles south of Bempton, running around in shirt sleeves. What a difference a day makes.

Looking north along the cliffs from Flamborough lighthouse in lovely warm sunshine!

On a sunny day the coast in that part of the world is a wonderful place to be, and there’s wildlife in abundance:

North Atlantic grey seal enjoying breakfast in relaxed fashion

And while the seals were taking life easy in the sea the shoreline was patrolled by various seabirds including this oystercatcher who was picking over the recently exposed seaweed looking for crustaceans.

Not the best picture of an oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus, Dansk: strandskade) I’ve ever taken but I like the rock and the surf! After the clifftop we headed down to the harbour at Bridlington where the tide was out and lots of seabirds were picking over the detritus you might expect to find around a working harbour.

Purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima, Dansk: sortgrå ryle)

The purple sandpiper breeds in the Arctic, very rarely in the UK, but overwinters on the coast here where it can be found in large flocks, often alongside turnstone.

A lone purple sandpiper accompanied by a pair of turnstone

Even though the tons of litter that lined the beaches offended me, the birds didn’t seem to mind, they were racing along the tide lines picking over all the debris, human and natural.

The turnstone (Arenaria interpres, Dansk: stenvender) is also a winter visitor to the UK, very rarely breeding here. It feeds mainly on insects during the summer but according to the British Trust for Ornithology they also feed on birds eggs, chips and even corpses. It suggests the corpses are human but I wonder where they would find one of those, I’ve never encountered one on my seaside meanderings!

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20 responses to “The day after the day before

  1. Pingback: Bridlington beach | The Naturephile

  2. Hi Finn
    Great post can’t wait to get back to the coast. I visited Northumberland coastline in March and its really stunning but the rubbish in some parts was truly depressing. So much plastic is being washed up from the sea. It is hazardous waste I hope it gets reclassified. Any idea who is campaigning on this?

    • Hello Plantameadow, that really is depressing. I love Northumberland and I’ve always found it to be relatively clean, so it’s not good to hear that it’s becoming coated in plastic too.

      I can’t remember where I heard about the reclassification of plastic as hazardous waste, I think it was in a newspaper article, but I think it’s a really good idea. I also think governments should spend cash to find ways to clean up existing waste. But that’s going to be tricky in the current fiscal quagmire we find ourselves in!

      • Absolutely, it’s not a great time for getting people and governments to spend money. If only they had been more responsible when we did have money and put legislation and structures in place to help stop the constant global dumping in our seas and mass production of plastics. Sometimes it alls seems so overwhelming. Governments seem far more interested in investing in space travel, presumably looking to jump ship once they’ve trashed beyond existence this gorgeous planet.
        But on the bright side it’s sunny and the bees are out 🙂

      • Have you ever read ‘Stark’ by Ben Elton? It’s about exactly that scenario. But it makes me wonder, no matter how bad it gets down here would you want to be stuck on a space ship with the kind of scumbags who would be on those space ships? Especailly when they run out of food and end up eating each other. I reckon I’d take my chances on good ole Planet Earth!

        Something has to be done with the oceans soon though. Environmental scientists are already talking about plastic microparticles poisoning the food chain. It’s not a healthy situation.

      • Haven’t read it but what a horrible thought being stuck with them all. LOL
        Maybe once they’ve all left, we can help clean up the mess like Wall-e (great film). Keep smiling a least there are people fighting against the degradation of the planet. Imagine a world where nobody cared.

      • You’re dead right. I long for the day when the folk with a conscience can displace those without and as a species we start to value the important things in life.

      • Haven’t read it but what a horrible thought being stuck with them all. LOL. Maybe when they’ve all left we can clear up the mess like Wall-e (great film) Anyway at least there are plenty of people that do care can you imagine if we all crapped where we lived and no one noticed.

  3. Welcome back, Finn! What a fabulous sandpiper photo. The trash on the shoreline is awful. How sad. 😦

    • Thanks Ruth, human litter is indeed a sad thing, but it’s also global and needs government action to deal with it. There was talk in the UK of reclassifying it as hazardous waste which would be really helpful but I think that’s unllikely as it would cost someone money to dispose of it properly. But at least the debate is starting to happen.

  4. Very good to see you back, Finn! What beautiful cliffs, and good birding, too. I especially like your single purple sandpiper. How’s your spring coming along?

    • Hello Gary, Spring burst onto the scene last weekend and now the weather is lovely. I spent the whole of the weekend outside, Saturday in the countryside, taking photographs and recording my observations (take a look here: April 2013 wildlife diary entries). The first butterflies appeared over the last week and the first swallows and house martins arrived over Histon from South Africa on Saturday, so it’s official, summer is here!

      How’s it going in your part of the world? Are you still anxiously awaiting the arrival of the warm weather?

  5. I love the sandpiper with shells, what a lovely composition. Your pictures make me long to be by the seaside.

    • Hello Lorna, I was very pleased with that one too, isn’t he a beauty?

      One more beachy post to go and I shall tantalise you no more. At least until the autumn 🙂

  6. My mother and grandmother found the top of a human corpse on a local beach once…after driving at full speed to the local police station to alert them (no mobile phones back last century 😉 ) they were informed that the poor leggless guy was a surfer that had gone missing and had been presumed drowned. They presumed wrong…he had been the victim of a shark attack! We get a lot of oyster catchers here because the entire salty part of the Tamar River is covered in oysters. Poor misguided tourists fall on them with great glee but due to the heavy metal content, we natives leave them well alone! Love this post and glad to see you back up and blogging and hope you had a fantastic time away with your wonderful family 🙂

    • Blimey Fran, what are the chances of that! Hell of a way to go though.

      How come your oysters are full of toxic metals? Are you downstream from a mine or a smelter? I have to feel a little bit sorry for those tourists.

      • The tourists just get a bit green at the gills sometimes but we natives know not to eat the oysters in any month PERIOD 😉 Forget starting with a…or ending with a…(whatever that old Pacific oyster rhyme is!). No idea why we have that problem. My guess is that Tasmanians are very VERY slack about anything to do with giving a damn. They have a very BAD track record for preserving anything whatsoever unless it directly relates to their comfort. Methinks Tasmanians should be reclassified as Australian Rednecks to be honest ;).

      • I reckon it’s not just Tasmanians that lack that skill. Seems to be a global phenomenon if it means avoiding paying ones dues! Bastards.

      • Yup BOLLOCKS the lot of them… seems to be “not in MY lifetime” is the catch cry… too bad for their kids I guess 😦

      • Yeah, and yours and mine.

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