Cullercoats – Rockpools

We spent some time exploring the foreshore area at low tide with a volunteer marine biologist to assist with identification. The picture shows Carboniferous resistant mineralised sandstone ridges lying above the waterline.

cullercoats

Hermit crabs, probably (Pagurus bernhardus) were abundant. The one below was inside a periwinkle shell, others were in larger Dogwhelk shells. The Dogwhelks (Nucella lapillus) likes to hide in tight groups deep in crevices.  They are common on rocky shores.

hermit crab

Sea Lettuce (Ulva latuca) easily found looks like lettuce and is edible.

sealettuce

Corallina officinalis is another common alga. It formed a soft turf with silt on the lower shore.

Corallina officinalis

Its structure of white calcareous segments, is shown below. It was used as a source of calcium carbonate for medicine. Toothed wrack (Fucus serratus) also in the picture covered many of the rocks.

corallina

Below is a brown seaweed called False Irish Moss (Mastocarpus stellatus) , distinguished from Irish Moss by channelling in the frond.

falseirish

We spotted a tiny Amphipod and this Isopod of some kind.

isopod2

Cladophora rupestris,  pictured below. is  a  densely tufted green algae, that grows up to 20 cm in height, with dark green or bluish coloured dull fronds.  Typically they branch profusely upwards from the base, in an irregular, whorled or opposite pattern. The seaweed had a rough feel.cladophorarupestris

This Chiton (Lepidochitona cinerea) or Coat of Mail Shell, clinging to a Limpet, is probably the commonest and most widespread Chiton found on British rocky shores. Both Limpet and Chiton are Molluscs and graze on micro-algae on the rocks.

chiton

Sponges can be difficult to identify. The bright red/pink one could be (Hymeniacedon sanguinea). We also found the Breadcrumb Sponge (Halichondria panicea), olive green, deep inside a crevice.

redspongeBarnacles covered the rocks providing grip for boots amongst the slippery seaweeds. On close up these are (Semibalanus balanoides). The green lichen could be Verrucaria mucosa.

barnaclw lichen

After some searching in crevices Beadlet Anemones were discovered. Actinea equina is a relative of jellyfish. It has stinging cells called nematocysts which it uses to catch prey or for defence.

beadlet.JPG

The group organizer found a Snakelocks Anemone possibly (Anemone sulcata), its purple tipped tentacles are barely visible. Also in the picture a Topshell (Calliostoma zizyphinum) and the tiny coiled up white- shelled (Spirorbis spirorbis).

snakelocks

The sunshine was bright enough to make photography difficult as this last shot of a seaweed fringed pool shows.

rockpool2

 

 

Reference:

The Hamlyn Guide to Seashores and Shallow Seas.

https://www.marlin.ac.uk/

Allotment – Hedgehog and Insects

There is a hedgehog in the allotment. So far I have not visited early enough in the morning to chance a sighting but the evidence is a scat.  The scat looks as if the Hedgehog had been eating worms and possibly a nestling.

hedgehog

I put out cat food in two dishes, spaced apart, so that if it left another scat it would provide evidence of the consumer. Next day all the food had been eaten but no scat left.

The Nettles have enticed Small tortoiseshell butterflies to lay eggs. The larvae are shown below. They build tent like structures on the top of  nettles. The black dots are caterpillar droppings.

smalltortoiseshell

This slug was removed from the Greenhouse. It is the black slug ( Arion ater).

black slug

Compare this to a Netted slug (Deroceras reticulatum). The netting on the back is visible.  Both are common on allotments. I think it has left its poop behind.

slug anf poo

The Strawberry snail (Trochulus striolatus) is also commonly seen.

snali

By the path this beautiful flowering grass caught my attention, Meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis).

meadow foxtail

On the way to the Allotment I pass a church with towers. This Blackbird frequently sits atop singing its delightful song.

blackbird

Allotment

Early bumblebee

In one of the water butts I rescued a  queen bumblebee, an Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)? It seemed to recover and fly off after drying out. Since insects are likely to fall into butts I think  I will cover them partially with floating newspaper, as a trial.

Snails were living under a brick. The one below is a White lipped snail (Cepaea hortensis)

whitelippedsnail

This one, though out of focus, is probably a Strawberry nail (Trochulus striolatus). They do like strawberries.

strawberrysnail

Earthworms are fairly common this time of year. On the Town Moor this morning many worms were either stranded or crawling across the paths after the rain. These were probably  (Lumbricus terrestris) like the ones in the allotment pictured below. a distinguishing feature is the paddle shaped end.

earthworm

The following day  I managed to capture a photo of the Spotted wolf spider (Pardosa amentata).  They are fast moving hunter who don’t build webs. This is a female who was in the greenhouse. There was  a few there who disappeared like lightning on my arrival. So much for quietly observing the natural world. The presence of humans is enough to frighten them away. Miss Muffet in reverse.

wolfspider

By a grassy path  White comfrey plants were dotted with seven spot ladybirds. A beautiful colour contrast. Not sure whether these are Common Comfrey or (Symphytum orientale) which is common on allotments. Flowering so early it is a great attraction for the bees; there was a queen white tailed bumblebee feeding on the drooping white flowers.

adybird

I include the following information from this website: wildflower finder

Sometimes mistaken for :

  • Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) but that has not got pure white flowers, but rather either yellowish-cream or dull purple flowers, much longer sepal teeth at least equal in length to the sepal tube and with the upper-stem leaves running down to the next leaf junction, and the stems are not nearly round but rather winged. It flowers a month later that White Comfrey.
  • Tuberous Comfrey (Symphytum tuberosum) but which has pale yellowish-cream flowers, pointed and very long sepal teeth, upper leaves which run a short way down the stem and which flowers up to two months later than White Comfrey.

Can be mistaken for : many other differing Comfreys, in particular those whose leaves never or only slightly run down the main stem:

  • Russian Comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum) but that has bright blue or purple flowers (and upper stem leaves that only slightly run down the stem)
  • Rough Comfrey (Symphytum asperum) but that has upper stem leaves which are shortly stalked (but still never running down the stem).
  • Creeping Comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) but that is shorter (20cm) and has flowers which are reddish-pink at first, turning yellowish-cream later and also much longer sepal teeth; and is also the first Comfrey to flower, flowering even before the already early White Comfrey.
  • Crimean Comfrey (Symphytum tauricum) but that has pale-yellow flowers (but still sometimes-stalked stem leaves which never run down the stem).

But none of those Comfreys are pure white! They are all coloured, either red, blue, purple, yellow or off-white cream.

Comfrey is a ‘wonder plant’ so will have do more research.