Also called the Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), this was another first for me. There were many of these little birds on the seashore bulldozing the seaweed out of their way with their heads in search of invertebrates hiding underneath it.
Feel free to click the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …
East Cowes, Isle of Wight. September 2019 © Pete Hillman.
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) juvenille, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.
I love how the sunlight sparkles and shimmers within the rippling movement of the waters on the coast. These are abstract worlds which I would like to glimpse more often than I do, full of the richness of life and wonder. These images feature what I believe is a seaweed called Gutweed (Ulva intestinalis).
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.
No special effects used here. Just a photo as it is, taken from a clifftop and looking down at the shallows below as the tide rolled in and softly kissed and melted the rocky coastline.
Double click image to dive in …
April 2017, from atop the Great Orme, Llandudno, Wales.
Double click image to delve deeper into the rockpool. What can you discover?
August 2015 Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.
Double click image to delve deeper into the rockpool. What can you discover?
August 2015 Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.
Common Mussel Mytilus edulis, August 2017, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England.
Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England. August 2017.
This Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) wasn’t shy at all when it came and landed on a seawall above the cliffs close by. It was so close you could almost reach out and touch it. It came even closer, and I thought perhaps it was expecting a food handout, but it had already got its beady eye on a crisp some passerby had dropped on the ground. As nimbly as can be it jumped off the wall, picked up the crisp in its beak and swooped off over the cliffs with it.
I cease to be amazed how adaptable these crows have become by the sea. I have even seen them follow the seagulls out at low tide to go and search for crabs and other invertebrates between the exposed rocks and the seaweed.
These intelligent birds are the smallest member of the crow family, and they are so devoted that they will form strong bonds with their mates and will pair up for life.
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula), Great Orme, Llandudno, Wales. April 2017.
These are the blighters that will swoop down and steal your ice cream or fish and chips whilst on the beach or the seafront. A few years ago I was sitting on a pebble beach and was about to tuck into a nice custard tart when one dive bombed me from behind and snatched the lot from my grasp in its beak.
This one landed on the roof just outside my hotel window. When I was a young lad I only used to see these beside the seaside, but now they fly overhead and have even landed on my garage roof here in the West Midlands where I am completely landlocked. Many have adapted well to a life inland, living off the rubbish we leave in our wake.
Yes despite their adaptability they are on the RSPB Red Status list here due to a moderate decline in numbers over the last 25 years. I have to say I do have a soft spot for them, despite the reputation they get sometimes. Yes they are scavengers and will virtually eat anything, and will attack small birds and other animals, yet their piercing cries and their streamlined forms as they soar aloft in the high blue yonder is alway quite something to experience.
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), West Shore, Llandudno, Wales.
I don’t know whether periwinkles blow bubbles or not like their terrestrial snail cousins, but this bubble was quite well placed until …
… it appeared to pop!
Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), West Shore, Llandudno, Wales.
A very distinctive plant with blueish-green or greyish green waxy leaves, with sharp-toothed spines. It produces tiny blue flowers in a large dome.
It flowers June to September. Found along sandy coastlines, mainly on sand dunes. Common and widespread in England, Wales and Ireland, and absent from north and east Scotland.
June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. Nikon Coolpix P500. Pete Hillman 2012.
Please click on images for full definition.
Photograph of Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis) taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.
I have shown the two gaper shells on one post to illustrate how different they are, beginning with the Sand Gaper above.
Sand Gaper (Mya arenaria)
A large and robust bivalve, the shell is oval in shape, the anterior end rounded, the posterior end more pointed. It has concentric ridges and is off-white, grey or light brown in colour. Shell length 15cm.
The Sand Gaper burrows to a depth of 50cm into mud and sandflats, where it filters organic matter from sea water. It is often found in estuaries, and is widespread and locally common.
Blunt Gaper (Mya truncata)
A thick-shelled, robust bivalve, rectangular in shape with a truncate posterior margin. It also has numerous concentric lines and is off-white in colour. Shell length up to 70mm.
It is commonly found in estuaries where it buries itself to a fair depth. Widespread and locally common, especially on the east coast of Britain.
Photographs taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.
The shell is a rounded-oval, although the posterior more angled. The colour is variable from pink to purple, yellow and white. Width 25mm.
It is found on the lower shore in muddy sand, and also in estuaries. Common and widespread.
Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2012.
The shell of the Common Cockle is cream to pale yellow or brownish, and it has 22-28 radiating ribs crossed by prominant concentric ridges which may bare short spines. Length up to 5cm.
It is found in muddy, sandy and fine gravel shores, from the middle to lower shore. Utilising a muscular foot, it burrows up to 5cm into the sand, and when covered by water they open their shells and extend a pair of short siphons to filter-feed on zooplankton. It can live up to 10 years, and is fished commercially and prayed upon by wading birds. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The shell has numerous fine, concentric rings and grooves. It is dirty white, yellowish or greyish in colour, and is flat, thin and delicate in form. Length 6.5cm.
It is found in sheltered, brackish habitats, like estuaries and muddy shores where it burrows up to 20cm, leaving behind a star-shaped tell-tale impression on the surface. It is a deposit-feeder, and when the inhalant siphon is extended it is often eaten by crabs, fish and wading birds, but it is regrown fairly quickly. Common and widespread all around the UK.
Photographs of Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The colour of the shell is pale cream or yellowish, usually marked with three prominent radiating brown bands. It is fairly thick and has fine concentric ridges. Length 4cm.
It is found buried in the lower shore to sublittoral, and it can live up to 10 years. Common and widespread on all coasts, except the south-east coast of England.
Photographs of Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
This mollusc has a shiny white to yellow, purple or greyish-brown slender wedge-shaped shell. Growth stages show as pale bands. The inner surfaces are tinted white, purple, yellow or orange. Length up to 38mm.
Found on the middle to lower shore where it burrows into coarse sand and lives just below the surface. The Banded Wedge Shell is a filter feeder, and when the tide is in it extracts food particles from the water via a syphon. Common and widespread on all British and Irish coasts, but less common further north on Scottish coastlines.
Photographs of Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The Necklace Shell has a buff to pale yellow shell with a spiral row of brownish marks near its upper edge. Similar to Alder’s Necklace Shell which is smaller and darker. Shell height up to 3cm.
It is found buried in the lower shore, in sheltered to moderately exposed sand. It feeds on small bivalves by drilling a round hole through its shell. Common and widespread along all British coasts.
Photographs of Necklace Shell (Polinices catenus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
This seaweed has a feathery appearance with its regular, opposing branched pattern. It varies in colour due to age and lighting conditions. The deeper it is it grows dark pink. It has a pink, disc-shaped encrusting holdfast which helps it anchor itself to rocks, shells or other larger seaweeds. It can grow up to 12cm in height.
It is typically found lining the edges of mid-shore rock pools. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis), taken August 2015, in rock pool Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
The shell is elongate, thin and brittle. There are numerous fine concentric lines, with a group of fine radiating striae. It is white or light brown, light olive or yellow. The hinge and ligament is positioned about a third of the way along the length of the mollusc. Length up to 130mm.
It burrows deeply in fine to medium course sands in the lower shore and shallow sublittoral. Found on the south-west coasts of England, Wales and Ireland.
Photographs of Bean Solen (Pharus legumen), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
Have you ever wondered what the underside of a limpet looked like? Note the large muscular foot, the relatively small mouth above, and the tentacles either side.
The Common Limpet has an ashen-grey or greenish-blue shell, sometimes with a yellow tint, and with radiating ridges. It is conical with an almost central apex. The shell is often covered in barnacles. The sole of the foot is yellowish or orange-brownish with a green tinge. Shell length 6cm. They are fairly long-lived, up to 15 years.
It inhabits the intertidal zone, clinging tightly to rocks along the shore or in rock pools, and with its thick shell it is able to withstand the pounding ocean waves, exposure to drying out, and attacks from birds or fish. It grazes on algae growing on the rocks beneath the water. It is not ‘stuck’ in one position as it may always appear to be, but follows a mucous trail as it feeds and finds it way back. Scarring maybe evident on the substrate where it has ground it down to get the perfect fit. Common and widespread around the British coasts.
Photographs of Common Limpet (Patella vulgata), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
Also called the ‘Blue Mussel’, the shells are dark brown, blue-black, or purple in colour. Shell length up to 10cm.
It is found middle to lower shore, and attaches itself to rocks via byssus threads. It will also find crevices in the rocks, or attach themselves to manmade structures like piers and harbour walls. They can form large beds up to 6 layers thick and covering many square kilometres. Mussels are filter feeders of plankton, pumping large amounts of water through their bodies to extract the food.
Very common and widespread all around the British coast.
This is an edible marine mussel which has been harvested by humans for centuries. They are a rich source of protein, and are very important to the marine life ecosystem.
Photographs of Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
This is one of the larger waders, and certainly one of the most distinctive with its black and white body, dazzling red-eye and long, vivid orange-red bill. It has short, pale pink legs, and long and broad white wingbars with a white ‘V’ on its back can be seen when in flight. In the winter it has a white-collar and a dark-tipped bill. Length 40 to 45cm.
They feed in large groups probing sand and mud with their long bills for marine worms and molluscs, or they prise shellfish from rocks along with seaweed. They will also eat earthworms and other invertebrates when venturing inland if food is in short supply on the coast. They breed on almost all UK coasts, and within the past 50 years further inland. They form a shallow scrape in shingle or sand, often amongst rocks or grassy tussocks where they lay 2 or 3 eggs in 1 brood from April to July. They can live for up to 15 years.
Seen all year round, and they often occur in enormous tight flocks where they may dominate whole estuaries. Also seen on sandy, muddy, and rocky beaches, grassy islands, shingle or riverside grassland, and grassy fields. They are common and widespread, occurring on almost all UK coasts. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast, where on the east coast their numbers maybe increased by birds from Norway. The RSPB have given them an amber status due to their vulnerability of the over-fishing of cockle beds which they rely on for food.
A very noisey bird, especially as they form tightly packed flocks, producing penetrating kleep sounds.
Photographs of Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
The Redshank has a straight, black-tipped red bill and red legs, as the common name suggests. It has a marbled-brown back and a white, black-spotted underbelly. The males and females are similar, and the juveniles have yellow-brown legs. Length 27 to 29cm.
To feed they probe mud and sand with their medium-sized bill for molluscs, worms and crustaceans. The nest in a hollow in the ground often with a grass canopy formed above it where the female lays 4 eggs in 1 brood from April to July. They can live for up to 10 years.
They breed in saltmarshes, wet pastures, marshes and near lakes, but during the winter on the coast on estuaries and lagoons. They maybe observed all year round.
Widespread and frequent on many coastlines, with up to almost 40,000 breeding UK pairs, and 120,000 wintering birds in the UK. The RSPB has given the Redshank an amber status due to declining numbers due to loss of salt-marsh habitats, and in areas where farmland is drained.
Photographs of Redshank (Tringa totanus), taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
This is a small, dark green lettuce-like algae when wet, which forms flaky coatings over rocks and boulders. Length 1cm.
It grows on rocks and stones in the splash zone, mostly frequented by seabirds which drop their faeces from which it gets its nitrates to flourish. A common and widespread species, but mainly seen in spring and early summer.
Photographs of Prasiola stipitata taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
Greenish in colour when young, but becoming purple-red as it matures, and is very resistant to drying out and the action of the waves. It forms thin, delicate sheets which cling to rocks and has a polythene-like texture. Width 20cm.
Found attached to rocks in sandy habitats. Abundant and widespread on rocky shores throughout.
Purple Laver is used to make laverbread in Wales, which is a traditional Welsh recipe.
Photographs of Purple Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis) taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
Also called ‘Flat Wrack’, it is a dark olive-brown or greenish seaweed with a prominent midrib with no gas bladders. There are often pairs of swollen reproductive bodies on the tips of the frond branches. The fronds have a tendency to twist. Length 15 to 20cm.
Occurring on the upper shore, preferring sheltered to moderately exposed shores, where they cling to the hard surfaces. It also extends well into estuaries. It reproduces from July to September. A common and widespread species.
Photograph of Spiral Wrack (Fucus spiralis) taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
This seaweed is dark greenish-brown in colour when dry and yellow when wet. It has no gas bladders, the fronds have no midribs, and they are curled along the length forming a channel. Height 15cm.
Found on the upper shore attached to rocks. Reproduces from August to September. It is very resiliant to desiccation, and can survive for up to eight days without water. A common and widespread species.
Photograph of Channelled Wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata) taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
Estuarine Sand-shrimp (Gammarus duebeni)
The adult is olive-brown with a laterally flattened body with a curved dorsal outline. It has black kidney-shaped eyes, dorsal clusters of spines on the last 3 segments of its body, and 2 pairs of long antennae. When out of water it jerks along on its side. Length 16 to 22mm.
It feeds on dead plant and animal material, and hunts small invertebrates.
Found in brackish water and shores with freshwater run-off, estuaries, rocky shore pools, even lakes and rivers. It can tolarate low salinity. Locally common.
Photograph of Estuarine Sand-shrimp (Gammarus duebeni) taken April 2013, West Shore, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
The Common Prawn has large eyes and a translucent body with yellow, brown or reddish stripes. It has an elongate body with a fan-shaped telson (last segment, or appendage of the last segment of the abdomen). It has a large upturned rostrum with 6-7 dorsal teeth and 4-5 ventral teeth. The first two pairs of walking legs bear claws, and have red, blue and yellowish banding. It can move very quickly, and is a very inquisitive creature. Length up to 11cm.
It is a ominvore and it will eat virtually anything from dead animal life, to hunting other invertebrates, and to consuming plant material.
Found on the upper to lower shore, in rockpools, amongst seaweeds and under rocks and boulders. Our commonest prawn, it is widespread throughout. Prawns are a valuable food source, and are of extreme commercial interest.
Photograph of Common Prawn (Palaemon serratus), taken August 2015, in rock pool Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
This limpet has a humped, smooth shell with variegation in colour, usually pinkish, orangey, cream or purplish. It has a fairly thick shell with a shelf on the underside, which resembles a slipper. Shell length 5cm. Shell height 2.5cm.
It is found on the lower shore, attached to rocks and other shells, and they form stacks of up to ten individuals or more. They begin life as males, and then change progressively to become females. An introduced species from north-east America in 1887, the Slipper Limpet is quite an invasive species which competes with native oysters for space and food, and is also a threat to Common Mussel beds. Common and widespread.
Photographs of American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
The Variegated Scallop has rather an elongated, flattened shell, which come in a variation of colours from orange to purple, yellow and greys, which can often be mixed. The ribs of the shell bear spines. Shell length 6cm.
It inhabits the lower shore, on rocks and seaweed holdfasts attached by a byssus. It feeds by filtering organic matter from the sea water. It is a sequential hermaphrodite, maturing as a male and then changing its sex several times during its life. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
I have created a second blog called Snapshots In Time for photography of a different kind, but which may cross boundaries with this one at times. You are more than welcome to join me there if you so wish.
Photographs of a collection of wild flowers and grasses, taken August 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.
The Dog Whelk’s shell is variable in colour, from white to dark brown, yellow or banded. Thick-shelled, it is broadly conical bearing spiral ridges with a short spire. Shell height 3 to 5cm.
It is a fierce predator of mussels, barnacles and other molluscs. It bores a hole into the prey’s shell using its radula. Its digestive juices dissolve the prey and it sucks it up with its proboscis. It produces yellow egg capsules which are fixed in clusters under rocks. It can live for up to 10 years.
Found in all types of rocky shores from the middle shore downwards, on rocks, under overhangs and in crevices. Common and widespread.
Photographs taken April 2014, Llanduno, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.
Sand Mason Worm (Lanice conchilega)
The Sand Mason Worm fashions a tube made from cemented sand grains and tiny fragments of seashell. It has a frayed edge around the mouth, and can be seen at low tide protruding from the sandy beach.
The worm itself is pink, yellowish or greenish with white tentacles and red gills. It can have up to 300 segments, and grows up to 30cm long.
It may be found solitary or in great masses, and as many as several thousand can be within one square metre. Found on exposed and sheltered beaches where it feeds on organic food particles beneath the water via its tentacles which protrude from the top of its protective tube. Common and widespread.
Photograph taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales.
The West Shore is the quiter side of Llandudno, Wales, and if you are up early enough you can catch the rays of the sun.
Photograph taken April 2014.
Grey Chiton (Lepidochitona cinerea)
I enjoy being nosy in rock pools when I visit the coast, and when I first set eyes on one of these I had no idea what it was, so I had to look it up. It is a mollusc, and this particular species has only been around for about 500 million years, and belong to one of the oldest animal groups on earth. And in all that time it has hardly changed at all.
Chitons are also called ‘Sea Cradles or ‘Coat-of-Mail Shells’ because they look like interlinked chain mail. At first glance they may look like tiny fossils, but they are living creatures. The shell is composed of eight arched plates which fit closely together. They cling to the rock surface by a large muscular foot and the form of the shell helps them especially on uneven surfaces. The body is oval-shaped, and chitons can curl up into balls like woodlice, their hardened shells helping to protect them. The colours are variable with alternating light and dark bands. They can grow up to 28mm in length.
They feed by using a radula, a kind of mollusc tongue which they use to scrape off and eat microscopic algae growing on the surface of the rocks.
The Grey Chiton can be found on the lower shore affixed to rocks in rock pools. This is the most common and widespread chiton to be found in the intertidal zone.
Photograph taken April 2014, Llandudno, Wales.