Elvis the campervan is still languishing in a garage down in Morecambe somewhere, so we took the on loan van up to Mawbray on the Solway coast at the weekend. It's a great spot for birding, and we were regaled by Skylarks from morning until night, with click accompaniment from the numerous Stonechats. Down on the beach, the sand martins were nesting, and the Oystercatchers and Sanderlings were having their breakfast. All very calming and peaceful after last weekend's shenanigans.
Flowers are beginning to make more of a show now, with blues and reds appearing among the yellow and whites of April. I'll just draw your attention to the little, inconspicuous plant at top left – Sea Sandwort. This is a marvellous little succulent, packed full of vitamins A and C. Where it grows, it does so profusely. You can cook it as a greens, or add it raw to salads to add a bit of crunch. Pick from the middle of a patch rather than the outside so that it continues to spread along the coast.
Insects continue to be worryingly scarce. Six species was the entire haul for the weekend. The Hawthorn flies had just hatched in considerable numbers, and there were other dipterans about. A Red-tailed bumble bee was looking for a nest site, and a lonely Green-veined White butterfly was flitting around in the grass. All little white butterflies look the same at first glance, but there are quite a few different species with various markings, so they're worth a closer look. A bit of stone flipping revealed a couple of beetles which I've provisionally identified, but have yet to have confirmed. I also turned up a Crane fly larva, looking a bit like a caterpillar. You can tell it isn't because it has no prolegs. You can also tell that it's not a beetle larva as it is soft headed. The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies has two pages of larvae identification keys; one for terrestrial larvae and one for aquatic larvae. A must have book for any budding entomologist.
Back down on the beach and a flight of Dunlin take to the air whilst the Sand martins cavort along the shore line. Quite a few Thornback Skate egg cases lying around (see Shark!) and a Baltic Tellin shell looking very pretty in pink. Most Baltic Tellins are white, but they also come in orange and yellow as well as this rather fetching pink example.
Mawbray is famous for it's Natterjack Toads, so we took a look in the ponds. Plenty of Common Frog tadpoles but no sign of their illustrious cousins unfortunately. Natterjacks are very vocal at night, but we didn't hear any either. In the grass around the ponds St. George's Mushrooms were reasonably prolific (a good edible mushroom) and there were a few Dung Roundheads among the cow pats.
A lovely weekend, rounded off by this beautiful sunset, reflected multiple times across the Solway Firth, with the Scottish hills in the background.
Steve's Vintage Collectables. (click to visit)
I'm still showcasing the royal memorabilia, but this will gradually be replaced as new items get added to the shop. If you're looking for the royal thimbles, they went out to America earlier this week, and the Hillstonia vase sold yesterday evening.
A good time to buy The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies as the minibeasts start to appear in all their variations.
Or why not join the 2.5k members of our Naturalists group?
All the best,