Wednesday 10 June 2020

A little shellfish of me

Monday was a much better day than forecast. The gently lapping waves clip posted previously was filmed on the North Sea beach of Churchill Barrier 4. It was absolutely rammed.

We had gone there to see Little Terns, and one of their number was diving for fish just a few feet from the water's edge. Sadly, my wee camera wasn't up to the job of capturing that action. However, I think we'll be back there before too long, armed with more optics.

We also walked down Honeysgeo Road to another bay. Here were Sand Martins and Arctic Terns (I think), plus plenty of other birds and flowers to distract our minds from world events.

Yesterday we had a visit from quite a large crane fly, Tipula varipennis. For some reason, our doorway is a particularly favoured spot for crane flies to hang out.

As the week has worn on, the weather has deteriorated. Today has been cold and cloudy, and the sun has only just put in a brief appearance as I type at 5pm. This morning a raptor was spotted gliding low over the fields. It landed briefly on a fence post, before zooming off again to harass the Starlings nesting at a neighbouring farm. I think it is a female Sparrowhawk. It wasn't until I had the image on my computer that I noticed I had lined up the camera, the hawk and an archaeological mound, Laughton's Knowe, a Bronze Age burial site (though possibly older still).

Also this week, I had a stroke of luck whilst at Hatston pier. In researching this post, I noticed that I have only ever mentioned Groatie Buckies twice in this blog. These are small cowrie shells, a much-sought-after treasure from our beaches. I have never been lucky enough to find any, despite a fair bit of effort on my part. Anyhoo, there I was on a pier, alongside some old abandoned lobster creels. I don't know how long they had previously been in the sea, but having been left on the pier, all manner of life had crawled out of them and succumbed to the warm air and dry concrete. There were hundreds of small Brittlestars, in sorrowful swathes of swirling arms, and in amongst them was something else...

Groatie Buckies!

The largest of these is perhaps 1 centimetre in length. The group on the left are Trivia monacha, or the Spotted Cowrie, whilst the group on the right are Trivia arctica, the Northern Cowrie. I also found a tiny wee spiral shell.

So, I have lived here for over six years and only just scored my first Groatie Buckies. That's proper snail's pace.


Mark said...

Wow, they are little belters! I recall looking for such on a beach on Colonsay ( ) but we never found a thing. I guess we coudn't hang around for six years to bag our quarry.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Some folk seem to be born to it. Occasionally photos surface online of jars full of thousands of the things. Personally, and somewhat predictably, until now I had contented myself with visiting a cafe on Westray called Groatie Buckies 😊

uphilldowndale said...

How I wish I could be visiting Orkney, sigh. I never found any groatie buckies, but I loved looking.

Imperfect and Tense said...

This is a strange and stressful time, no mistake. We've necessarily had to forgo our usual 'rivers and woods' trip to the Highlands, but yesterday found ourselves stood beside a lone Sycamore growing in a small ravine next to a trickling burn. Needs must.