Friday, 30 December 2016

Penultimate Day

Hurrah! The storm winds have passed at last. It was actually quite comfortable out there for the first time in over a week. First up I checked on the dead sheep. Yep, still dead. Unfortunately it was still a long way out on the beach too, doubtless it will still attract various species after a nice yummy meal, those after somewhere to lay their eggs and those in search of mates. Just not as many as if it was up on dry ground instead of being swamped by seawater a couple of times a day. I could see a family walking my way, I doubted the two young kids would sleep too well that night had they seen me laboriously hauling a sheep carcass up the beach and into the bushes by its horns. I left it out there all exposed on the black sands. The Hooded Crows have slightly enlargened the hole in its side, but otherwise it still looks relatively unscathed, in a seaweedy kind of way. 

The tide was well out so I went exploring. The beach here has such a shallow gradient it really is pretty much flat. No rockpools. No green. Not very diverse. But it does currently have an awful lot of washed up seaweeds, mostly Egg Wrack and Bladder Wrack but also a few bits of Oarweed (Laminaria digitata) and Sea Belt (Saccharina latissima) which were new for my NG3963 list. Found this thing on a holdfast, something I've never seen before.

Ascidiella scabra, a sea squirt
I also had a proper shufty at the barnacles. I'm not a huge fan of barnacles (although Chthamalus stellatus has a pretty cool trick, splash water onto them and watch closely as they momentarily open their valves to reveal bright blue flashes. Looks a bit like the Eye of Sauron wearing mascara!) The ones plastering the hard surfaces here mostly seem to be Balanus crenatus, one I've never identified before - despite being one of the commonest barnacles in Britain. 

Balanus crenatus
After the beach I took a wander into the woods, what's left of them. My wee track through the trees has turned into a bit of a slippery mudpit and there seem to be a few extra trees and branches strewn around the foot of the steep slope. 

The pile of logs in the left foreground was already there. The rest though...
I had another look at the Graphidion community on the smooth-barked tree trunks. There's an explanation of what the term means on this British Lichen Society page. Mostly dots and squiggles to me, which to be fair is a fairly accurate description anyway. Here's an example, something I think akin to Opegrapha atra.

Opegrapha atra and Graphis scripta are typical members of The Graphidion
Tomorrow is the last day of the year. My Pan-species List stands at 4497 species. I'd really like to hit 4500 tomorrow, start 2017 on a nice round figure. Weather is due to be crap again (I'm getting used to this) but I'm going to go for it anyway. But not mosses, it needs to be something satisfying!

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