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.
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.
The dangerous brothers, meanwhile, have never really had any such qualms, although S looks quite pensive here, I’m not sure why.
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….
….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.
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.
They adorn themselves with weed, or sponge – we found one covered in sponge but my photos are just too blurred to use.
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.
By this time A had switched her focus to Starfish and Brittlestars, which were equally abundant and wonderfully varied.
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….
….but I do like the way that this conveys the fish’s ability to squirm and slide around dry parts of the beach.
…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….
…is Estuary Sponge, but as always, I stand ready to be corrected.