The Sea

Sealing the Bay

Seal seen fishing in what might well be his patch (of sea) last Saturday.

Left to right, back and forth, right to left, across Babbacombe Bay he went all afternoon. As easy as you like.
Sealed to the sea he was, as one wedded entity.

What a perfect way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

Also, a little Common Scoter was bobbling about (with what appeared to be plenty of his own fish to fry)

(Or was it a Velvet Scoter?! Too far away to get a positive id)

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Avocets on the Exe Estuary

I feel fortunate to have seen them.
Flicking the mud with their sweeping brush bills.

The start of the vid has a flock of black tailed godwits and a few dunlins plugging away at the strand line also.

Beautiful bright winters day yesterday.
Lovely as light, and light as lovely, can possibly be (at this dreary time of the year)

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Shags in the Bay

For ages this Saturday afternoon I was watching a male Shag sat on a rock in Babbacombe bay.
Eventually he was joined by 1 female. And then a 2nd female.
At which point the male Shag decided his little rock had become overcrowded – and he plopped himself off.

I counted at least half a dozen Shags floating and fishing around this bit of the bay.
It appears to be a Shag friendly sort of place.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Oystercatcher rootling round the rocks

A Saturday afternoon of squally rain at Babbacombe beach.
But the piddly-pee rain didn’t stop rock pipits pipiting about.
Or oystercatchers rootling the rocks with their preposterous red beaks.

After an hour the rain stopped.
Within 10 minutes the beach was contaminated with dogs and their dogwalkers.
Cue immediate disappearance of rock pipits and oystercatchers.

This vid shows how one little oystercatcher goes about doing his work.

Film & Words: Ian Nisbet

The Old Raven of Babbacombe Bay

This old raven was waiting for me to arrive at Babbacombe bay this afternoon.

Old Raven of Babbacombe Dec 2018

Seemingly too weary and worn out to fly.
He showed no inclination to take to the air or join all the other ravens kronking in and out of the tall clifftop trees.

Simply sat around all afternoon, tamely watching and waiting.
(although he did rob a couple of crows of a seabird they’d just killed – and proceeded to neatly rip and tear it to bits)

As it got dark the old chap hopped up into the nearest lowest branches he could find, in readiness for roosting for the night.

He will probably be there again this Sunday morning.

The old raven of Babbacombe Bay. You can’t miss him.
He’ll be sat on the seawall.
Waiting for ships (or chips) to turn up.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

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

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)