Strawberry Dahlia Anemone

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Green Shore Crab.

Another one of our sporadic visits to Roa Island occasioned by a relatively low tide falling on a Saturday when we were all free.

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Roa Island Lifeboat Station and Piel Island.

I’ve reported before that every overturned rock on Roa Island reveals hordes of Shore Crabs. This crab wasn’t even bothering to hide…

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Although in amongst the rocks and shells it was actually surprisingly difficult to spot.

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Sponge. Myxilla incrustans?

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Butterfish.

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We caught numerous Shannies and Butterfish.

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Shanny.

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Starfish.

And found lots of Starfish and Brittlestars.

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This is my favourite photo from the day, but also something of a conundrum: the banded tentacles are a distinctive feature of the Dahlia Anemone, whilst the red, spotted body is characteristic of the Strawberry Anemone. So this must be a Strawberry Dahlia Anemone?

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Sponge. Estuary Sponge?

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Long-clawed porcelain crab. I think.

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Common Brittlestar.

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Ophiocomina nigra – the Black Brittlestar. Possibly.

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Four-horned Spider Crab.

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As the tide reached it’s lowest point and some areas of seaweed were revealed, we were able to find lots of small spider crabs, I suspect of several different species. What a lot of these small spider crabs have in common is the way in which they decorate themselves with bits of weed or seashells. Also the fact that they are hard to hold still to photograph, unlike their surprisingly docile larger cousins…

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Edible Crab.

Something I think I’ve only really fully appreciated since we started to visit Roa Island is the fact that really low tides will always be at around sunset…

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(..or too early in the morning for us to have made it around the Bay to Roa!)

 

Strawberry Dahlia Anemone

Whitsun Treadings VI: Roa Island

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We went to Roa Island again (after a tip-top picnic on Birkrigg Common – we really must go and explore more thoroughly there). It wasn’t a particularly low tide and the water was pretty cold. Even so, there was, as ever, plenty to be seen.

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Rhizostoma octupus – not an octopus at all, but actually a jellyfish.

As always, there were lots of shore crabs to be found – many were females carrying a clump of eggs. Many others seemed to be at that vulnerable stage where they had recently shed a shell and their new shells were still soft.

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Their markings and colouration vary enormously.

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Lots of the rocks we turned over were smothered with these…..

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…presumably eggs of some sort. Not crabs, I don’t think, but I don’t have an alternative suggestion.

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Not sure at all about this either.

Look carefully into this shallow pool…

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..can you see something snaking across the middle of the picture?

It’s a greater pipefish….

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Every visit seems to deliver something we haven’t seen before. This one was spotted by our friend TJF/

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Brittlestar.

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Starfish.

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We walked farther down the beach than we ever have before, eventually reaching the harbour wall, where judging by the stench, untreated sewage was flowing into the channel. (I’d be pleased to know that my suspicion is wrong about that, if anyone knows better.)

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A whelk?

It’s entirely possible that the huge clusters of eggs we saw were whelk eggs. Whelk roe anyone?

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A shanny.

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Also a shanny, possibly the same one.

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We found quite a number of these large, appealing shells – wrinkled and rippled without, shiny and super-smooth within. Oysters I presume.

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We often see, and catch, prawns and shrimps, but I’ve not had much luck with photographing them before. I think that this is the former – maybe a common prawn.

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Always a grand day out. Hopefully we’ll be there again before the summer is out.

Whitsun Treadings VI: Roa Island

Fell Ten Foot Park

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I found some more pictures from A’s birthday outing, as related in the previous post. These were on TBH’s camera, although I took quite a few of them.

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These show our makeshift tarp lean-to. You can see it was pretty marginal. Subsequently I bought some more guys, taught myself some knots (with a little online tuition) and, on another trip to Fell Foot Park we built something much more sturdy.

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The kids took great delight in building themselves a mock campfire.

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So much so that A tried again when we got to Aldingham, but she struggled with the wind.

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More photos from Roa Island….

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A Butterfish and a Shanny.

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Broad-clawed porcelain crab. Apparently those long whip-like antennae are indicative of the fact that this is not a true crab, but is in fact more closely related to lobsters. It’s very flattened body and claws are an adaptation for living under rocks .

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The ‘porcelain’ refers to the texture of the exoskeleton. It’s a very hairy crab, but this one was so coated in mud that we couldn’t really tell.

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A spider crab. They attach weed and pieces of sponge to themselves as camouflage.

So, why ‘Fell Ten Foot Park’? (Those of a nervous disposition might not want to read this part, it involves the clumsiest of the Dangerous Brothers and a trip to A&E).

Cutting a long story short, we’ve been to Fell Foot Park, and indeed several other local National Trust properties, several times this summer. We’d bought some inflatable canoes (of which more anon) and were there to try them out for the first time. We were later arriving than we had planned and decided to have lunch before taking the boats out.

‘Can we go to the park Dad, while you get lunch out?’

Fell Foot has a children’s play area. But they didn’t go to the children’s play area. Oh no. They went and climbed a tree. It had only just stopped raining. The tree was slippery. You can guess the rest. The ‘ten foot’ part is based on B’s estimate as recounted first to the paramedics and then to the A&E doctor. As he fell Little S hit a branch with his chin. I don’t know how the branch came out of it, but it made a bit of a mess of his chin. All fixed now however, although he still has a fairly livid scar, but it’s under his chin and isn’t too obvious.

The National Trust staff, the paramedics, the nurses and the doctor at the hospital, and the people who witnessed his fall and went to help him were all brilliant.

We joked with S that he was banned from any more tree climbing, but we were back at Fell Foot Park before he had his stitches out and what did he do there? Climbed trees of course.

Fell Ten Foot Park

Roa Island Rock-Pooling Again

A’s birthday. We went to Fell Foot Park for a picnic lunch. This was the first of many visits over the last couple of months. Actually, we’re now calling it ‘Fell Ten Foot Park’, but that followed a later visit, and that story will have to wait.

On this occasion we tried to make a shelter with some trekking poles, a couple of tarps that somebody gave us, we can’t agree on who it was that donated them, and a few odd tent pegs and guy lines which were knocking about in a box in our garage. Unfortunately, it turned out that there was only one guy and a piece of very stretchy, thin bungee cord, the original purpose of which completely eludes me. Quite surprisingly, despite the strong swirling winds, we eventually managed to erect a reasonably durable structure. The kids were disproportionally excited by the whole palaver and I’ve subsequently picked up some more guys in a sale and am even contemplating buying a larger tarp – anything which keeps the kids entertained in the outdoors is worth considering.

Later, we met some friends on the beach at Aldingham for a very windy and therefore quite fierce Birthday barbecue. I managed not to singe the meat too much I think, although the same can’t be said for the flimsy beach tent I put up to try to provide a bit of a wind-break, and which now has a few prominent scorch marks.

Birthday girl with crab 

After that, we were back to Roa Island to gate-crash a meeting of a local Marine Conservation group. We’ve done this before: some of our friends are members and they tip us the wink as to when rock-pooling events are planned. I have to say that the group are exceptionally friendly and it’s great to be there in numbers, partly because between a few of you more things are spotted and also because some of the group members are very knowledgeable and happily identify finds and share their knowledge.

A has always been a bit wary of crabs. No – that’s an understatement: she’s always been inclined to squealing and running away whenever crabs are present. But today she suddenly discovered her inner crab-fiend. There were several other children there who were also a bit reluctant to handle the abundant crustaceans – A became crab ambassador, coaxing them to hold steadily larger crabs as their confidence increased.

B with shore crab 

The dangerous brothers, meanwhile, have never really had any such qualms, although S looks quite pensive here, I’m not sure why.

S with crab, looking slightly pensive. 

Shore crab 

Long-suffering readers will know that we’ve been to Roa Island a few times before. There are always reliably huge numbers of shore crabs and edible crabs, but I was thrilled to find, under some weed by the jetty….

Porcelain crab 

….a Broad-clawed Porcelain Crab. (The light wasn’t great, so the photos are generally not up to much, but I haven’t seen one of these before and was very happy to now.)

We arrived a couple of hours before low tide, and the water was already as low as I have seen it before. When low tide came around, we were able to explore much further into the channel then we ever have before. Down on the edge of the water every small pool or over-turned bit of seaweed was teeming with life.

Tiny spider crab 

We found no end of these tiny spider crabs. There are at least three species found in UK waters and I wouldn’t like to say which of those these are.

Another weed covered spider crab 

They adorn themselves with weed, or sponge – we found one covered in sponge but my photos are just too blurred to use.

Another tiny spider crab 

This one doesn’t have the weed clothing and the slightly thicker front legs make me think that it might be a Scorpion Spider Crab, but I wouldn’t take my word for it if I were you.

Brittle star 

By this time A had switched her focus to Starfish and Brittlestars, which were equally abundant and wonderfully varied.

A's starfish collection 

We also spotted a Lion’s-Mane Jellyfish again, although this was much smaller than the one we saw before, and indisputably dead.

A few fish were found, including several Butterfish. I got better photos last time….

Wriggley butter fish 

….but I do like the way that this conveys the fish’s ability to squirm and slide around dry parts of the beach.

This one…

Shannie 

…is a Shanny, I think, and they too can survive out of the water, at least for a while.

With the tide being so far out, we saw lots of sponge too. I’m going to tentatively say that this….

Sponge covered rock

…is Estuary Sponge, but as always, I stand ready to be corrected.

Roa Island Rock-Pooling Again

Jersey – The Channel Island Way III

Wall lizard

Leaving the restaurant we walked past the entrance to the castle and down some steps to the end of Gorey promenade. On the wall by the steps we saw a couple of these wall lizards. Apparently the colouration can vary enormously, but the two we saw…

Smaller wall lizard

…had very similar colouring. This species is widely distributed across Europe but is introduced on Jersey, as it is in some southern parts of the British Isles.

Gorey is a very handsome place…

Flowership 

….where I suspect one could wile away a very pleasant afternoon.

Gorey harbour and promenade. 

Perhaps playing in the sand…

Sandshark 

Or maybe playing golf on the links at Jersey Royal Golf Club, although don’t hold your breath if you intend to join the waiting list for membership. The golf course is on common land, so it’s OK to walk across it apparently. If you do – look out for sea holly…

Sea Holly 

…we also saw it in the huge dune complex on the mouth of the river Canche at Le Touquet, but for some reason I didn’t photograph it there.

Sea Holly flower 

The remainder of the day’s walk was along the long curve of beach…

Looking back to Gorey and Mont Ogrueil 

..alongside La Baie du Vieux Chateau. On the landward side we passed a number of Jersey Round Towers, many of them incorporated into more recent houses, and also concrete reminders of the German occupation…

Bunker 

A week before, B had found lots of these…

Cuttlefish skeleton 

…on a beach near Boulogne. He thought that they were mermaid’s purses and was doubly disappointed when I told him that they weren’t, but that I didn’t know what they were. Thanks to Arthur, I do now. They’re cuttlebones – the internal cartilaginous skeleton of a cuttlefish. However, there are several different cuttlefish and I wouldn’t begin to know how to sort out which particular species this belongs to.

Of course this is one of the great delights of a walk on a beach – you never know just what the tide might have washed up, like a dead spider crab….

Dead Spider Crab 

…or what you might see feeding on the tide-line, like a flock of ringed plovers…

Ringed Plovers 

The end of our first day’s walking brought us to the harbour at La Rocque…

La Rocque Harbour

Where, from the end of the harbour wall…

Harbour Wall, La Rocque

…and through the magic of the little Olympus’ zoom, we had our best view of Seymour Tower…

Seymour Tower again

The tower is built on one of the largest inter-tidal reefs in the world. Depending on which website you believe it’s either one mile or two miles from the shore – with the 1:25,000 map and a ruler I arrived at 2km as the gull flies, so somewhere between the two. At low tide it’s possible to walk out and then to stay there, although you have to be accompanied by a guide and it isn’t cheap. I think that my boys would think it was a great adventure – and so would I come to that!

Jersey – The Channel Island Way III