Feast on the Foreshore

If you are a hungry Gull the further the tide goes out the more likely you are to capture your favourite seafood delicacy. And the water doesn’t go out further than during the current run of the biggest Spring tides of the year.

This Herring Gull has perfected the technique of turning over the weed to uncover the sheltering crabs.

 

 

but it’s this immature Great Black-backed Gull that has struck lucky with a large meal-sized starfish. (Great Black-backed Gulls don’t get adult plumage till they are four years old)

 

 

If you are a little fish or small marine creature you had better watch out because there are beady eyed Grey Herons every couple of hundred yards along the shore, and Little Egrets even more frequently.

 

 

 

 

I’d love to know how much more productive a tidal estuary is compared to a freshwater river in terms of food for predatory wildlife. My guess would be ten times the amount (but it could be a lot more).

At this time of year the Kingfishers move down to the estuaries, having run the gauntlet of nesting in holes in the banks of freshwater rivers (and hopefully avoiding floods), to cash in on the food bonanza. Even on a dull day their turquoise and orange outfit is bedazzling.

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Kingfisher

 

 

I really don’t know what this pair of Kingfishers are doing. They are clearly not looking for fish. I thought at first that there might have been a stoat or weasel in the bushes that was attracting their attention, or there was a raptor overhead making them hunker down, but it looks as though they were doing a bit of posturing and either displaying at each other, or threatening one another. Answers on a postcard please.

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Kingfisher pair

 

What a Beauty!

There is nothing like a low winter sun to transform the drab browns and greys of a Cornish estuary into a smorgasbord of colours. As a bonus today’s little jaunt started off with super-smooth water as well.

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There was the usual entertaining waterside action as I paddled silently along. A Greater Black-backed Gull worrying a dead conger eel:

And a Herring Gull tackling a lively lunch that very nearly effects a crafty (although apparently unplanned) escape.

 

Every colour of the rainbow was on show today because there was a rainbow.

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Rainbow over Lerryn Creek

The birds were doing their best to join in with the colourfest and shrug off their national reputation of being dull and brown and boring, although this Curlew has got a bit of work to do because it is basically buff.

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Curlew

The legs of the roosting Redshank show a touch of tangerine:

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and Cormorants and Shags, which at long range looking unremarkable (and reptilian), have a bit to boast about when you take a closer look.

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Cormorant sporting ‘Silver Fox’ style
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Shag with Emerald Eye

This Mandarin Duck makes a good effort with a highly varied colour scheme but they don’t really ‘count’ because, although this bird appeared to be quite wild, they are essentially a feral species which have originated from escapees from collections.

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Mandarin

Some of the hardware on show was bright today:

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Red Diving Training ships
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Beautifully turned-out Class 66 hauling the china clay train.

It was appropriately at the most scenic part of today’s paddle that I had the most spectacular view of the UK’s most spectacularly-coloured bird.

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Super scenic Penquite Quay

I had already seen a couple of Kingfishers zipping along the shore, attracting attention with their loud and piercing whistle. Despite being absurdly brightly-coloured they are very difficult to spot when perched, sitting dead still amongst the branches of waterside trees and bushes, and usually flying off long before you get close, because they are quite shy. Typically all you see is a turquoise flash.

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Kingfisher

However I saw this particular bird splosh into the water to catch a little fish and then fly up to consume its snack. The gentle current was moving me towards it so I didn’t twitch a muscle as I drifted closer. By good fortune (or highly skillful anticipation) I had my camera all set up and ready, and the sun was directly behind. The Kingfisher’s irridescence was further enhanced by the shimmer of sunlight reflected from the water. Wow.

Even better, I drifted right past without the bird getting spooked and flying off. Couldn’t have been better.

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Kingfisher

Today’s most drably turned-out creature would have also been the most interesting interaction had it not turned out to be made of plastic.20170213_135843