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Ford and Etal

Druridge Bay, Northumberland – Bay of Plenty

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  December 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
Subalpine warbler

A Subalpine warbler. Credit, Martin Kitching, Northern Experience Wildlife Tours

Steve Lowe, Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Steve Lowe, Northumberland Wildlife Trust

By Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation, Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Over a very balmy and untypical October weekend, a troupe of local wildlife experts, joined by enthusiastic amateurs, descended on Druridge Bay with the mission to record as many different species as possible during a 24 hour period.

The assembled ecological “Big Guns” scored a huge hit, with 514 species confirmed.

More importantly, a wide range of locals and visitors had the opportunity of getting close to wildlife through techniques such as bat detecting, mammal live trapping, rock-pooling, moth light- traps and a range of other techniques. For many, this was their first experience of seeing things up close and it is hoped it will not be the last as there is nothing quite like handling or viewing at close quarters.

TV programmes such as BBC Springwatch or BBC Countryfile do a great job but nothing can replace the thrill of a really personal encounter with wildlife. Nature reserves, such as those managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, make ideal places to undertake this exploration and this event was one way in which people could become engaged.

Working alongside the Environmental Records Information Centre for the North East (ERIC (NE)), the local biological records centre based at the Great North Museum (Hancock), the event (organised by NWT and corporate member Northern Experience Wildlife Tours) also served to add information to the growing dataset being collated by ERIC (NE), which has huge relevance to conservation in the county.

One example is the discovery of the orange-tipped sea squirt Corella eumyota, discovered by myself and son Tom on the rocky shore at Cresswell.

This is an invasive species that has spread itself around the world, being able to establish a new population from only a few individuals, possibly even one. It attaches to almost anything that is covered in seawater, including ship hulls and piers, and even grows on other organisms. It can adapt its shape to fit any available space. It is therefore likely to have arrived in this way. Often forming large clumps of tightly packed aggregations on floating pontoons, piers, ropes, ship hulls, and other submerged structures, the species can grow over other organisms, including other invasive species. It therefore competes with native fauna and flora for space, food resources and also reduces water flow and oxygen, posing a threat to local biodiversity and potentially to shellfisheries. This is a new record for the area.

Corella eumyota Northumberland

Corella eumyota, otherwise known as an orange-tipped sea squirt, spotted at Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Meanwhile, at Druridge Pools, a Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillansis was a very notable and popular find, attracting birders from far and wide. This species is a typical small warbler, breeding in the southernmost areas of Europe and northwest Africa and usually wintering along the southern edge of the Sahara. It appears as very occasional vagrant in Great Britain.

For many, the absolute highlight was an otter, which spooked many of the birds at Hauxley, one of which was a nice male Scaup, the UK’s rarest breeding duck.

Also at Hauxley, a brown rat delighted children, especially when it got into a scrap with a magpie and a pheasant! Normally dismissed all these records counted on the day. By the way, the pheasant came off worst.

We are extremely grateful to everybody who supported this event, and to the specialist groups and leaders, especially Martin Kitching, Senior Guide with Northern Experience Wildlife Tours, without whom this would not have been possible. A big thank you must also go to Lafarge Tarmac for its generous financial sponsorship of the weekend.

The Final Scores – 514 different species:

Amphibian

2

Bird

84

Fish

11

Fungi/Lichen/Moss

32

Invertebrate

133

Mammal

18

Plant

207

Reptile

1

Seaweed/Algae/Kelp

26

 

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Category: Northumbria Wildlife

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