The Sea

Turnstones (er, turning stones)

I was down on the beach at Corbyn Head not expecting much.

But there they were, a little gang of turnstones, doing exactly what it says on their tins: turning stones.

For such a small bird, turnstones certainly punch well above their weight (and size) They’ve been tracked migrating huge distances: more than 16,000 miles from Australia to the Arctic and back again.

And from the evidence of what I was seeing yesterday, their stone turning is almost at the level of an Olympic sport.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

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In Pursuit of a Funny Gull

Med Gull Sept 15th 2018

This is the Mediterranean Gull we were seeing on Institute beach last Saturday afternoon.
Making funny, as in odd, squawks…. like a wind-up bird with a squeaky beak….

How interesting we thought ….. why’s it crying? …. it seems distressed…. – look! …. its disappearing over there by the rocks …… following its mother….

Haze was soon in hot pursuit….. took 2 steps up onto the rocks…..

…….and the rest is history……..

Don’t think we’ll be having too many positive associations with Mediterranean Gulls for a while….

And if this one should ever reappear……I’ll…..I’ll…… shake….. it…… by…..  its……

Words & Pic: Ian Nisbet

Afterword: That might be us done as far as Institute Beach is concerned…. a place of fond …. and not so fond memories……

The Humble Rock Pipit

Most people won’t know rock pipits exist.
They jump around rocks on beaches half hidden from view.

They’re like the dunnocks of the seashore. Inconspicious olive-brown birds. Wagging their tails occasionally.
Getting on with it. Minding their own business. Humble servants of their own modest endeavours.

This vid is a collection of clips taken of various rock pipits over the last couple of years at Meadfoot beach, Maidencombe beach, and Institute beach.

We were on Institute beach last Saturday to look for more rock pipitry.
Unfortunately we got the rock without the pipit. Haze left half of her nose and one of her teeth on the hard rocks of Institute beach.
(Happily, she’s already bouncing back. No rock can knock down or defeat her inner Pipit spirit)

Vid & Words: Ian Nisbet

Heart Urchin

We picked this up on Dawlish Warren sands.

Heart Urchin 2 May 2018

No idea what it was. Small, fragile, delicate. Intriguing.

Turns out its a ‘Heart Urchin’. Or to give it its more prosaic name ‘sea potato’.

Here’s an heart urchin still alive.

Heart Urchin

And looking kind of ‘urchin-like’ in that picture.

The paper-thin casing (we found) is what remains of the heart urchin in its ‘test’ form.

There were dozens of them on the beach. Casualities of the storms that blew across the Bay back in March possibly.

We collected 3, but 2 didn’t survive the vagaries of my trouser pocket and were crushed into fine particles.

This one, fortunately still in tact, sits on the windowsill in Haze’s kitchen.

Heart Urchin 3 May 2018

(PS: The stitch-like threading vaguely reminds me of the American softballs my mom used to sow together back in the 70’s)

Saturday Snaps of Institute beach

Here is that grey heron from Institute beach.

A rather tall chap (if indeed it is a chap)

Grey Heron on Institute beach Feb 17th 2018

An elegant dapper Mister (or Missus)

Here is Haze having conversations with inanimate objects again.

Institute beach 3 Feb 17th 2018

I think she’s saying to the bag: “Where have you hidden those scrummdiddlyumptious hazelnut biscuits eh?”

The new 2nd hand binoculars were tested out.

Institute beach 5 Feb 17th 2018

They got the thumbs up. Spotting estuary birds on Dawlish Warren will be the next test.

A final picture of Institute beach just as the tide was on the turn and coming in.

Institute beach 8 Feb 17th 2018

Our theory is that a bathing pool was walled off here (by Livermead Hotel) – as evidenced by that neatly constructed row of rocks. Which would explain the lagoon-like effect at low tide.

Institute beach has become our No 1 Go-To place this winter.

A Stalking and Stabbing Grey Heron

Going to Institute beach is best around low tide.

Best to see something going on.

The grey heron was there again on Saturday. And the little egret (unusually subdued)

The heron was in active stalking mode. Stabbing decisively at the water to fish up various rockpool delicacies.

Although there was nothing at all delicate about the herons table manners; everything gobbled down its long throat appeared to be wiggling and struggling, still alive.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet