Monday 28 March 2022

Sunstar and other Seastars (Starfish)


We took advantage of the bright weather last weekend and headed out to the coast at Felixstowe. There were few birds about, but in a secluded corner we found a collection of starfish, or 'sea stars' to use the preferred name in scientific circles.   

The one above is, I believe, a Common sunstar. I don't think I have ever encountered one before. What a beautiful creature.


I couldn't resist the photo above, which shows the proximity of the Common sunstar to one of the other star-shaped echinoderms. I hadn't noticed the 'stars' of white light from the camera until the photo was uploaded; it seemed a shame to crop them off!


As you can see from the second photo in this post, there were quite a few ripples in the pool so it was not easy to take a sharp picture. The photo above shows the best attempt at detail I could manage. 


The images immediately above and below show what I think must be the Common seastar, Asterias rubens.

Can you see those marks in the sand (top right), which I assume indicate the creature's direction of travel.

Another . . .

. . . and another

And finally, lurking in the sand was what I suspect may be the rather sad remains of a Brittlestar or similar . . .

I shall post these on iSpot, and may hopefully learn a bit more. I now know to keep an eye out for these fascinating sea creatures, particularly after a storm.

Monday 14 March 2022

First Comma of 2022

We had our first 2022 Comma sighting today.

The photos below (with the exception of the last one) show the Comma in our garden. I was fascinated by its proboscis, which it kept rolling up and unwinding ... as you will see. I would love to know what it was finding to eat. Incidentally, I found this site very informative about the butterfly proboscis - do take a look.

You can see the 'comma' shape clearly on this outer wing


And just to add a postscript. The small bee was still around this morning ... here it is flying towards its hole in our masonry.

A New Butterfly Season


I always look forward to the start of what I might call the 'UK butterfly season', and it was a joy to see this Peacock in one of our wild 'borders' last week. 

I like to take part in the Butterfly Conservation 'Garden Butterfly Survey', which has been re-vamped for the new season. 

David and I both decided to submit three photos for the Suffolk branch of Butterfly Conservation's photographic competition this year. Our photographs were not among the top three winning ones, but do take a look here at those that were. Don't forget to scroll down when you are on the page so that you can see the detail in the full-size entries.

Saturday 12 March 2022

Shingle Street, a Favourite Haunt on the Suffolk Coast

We visited Shingle Street, a favourite local haunt, this afternoon, not expecting more than a few sunny intervals; in fact the sun shone nearly all the time we were there. 

The photos in the post are almost random as I wanted to reflect the way in which the light varies as you look from one direction to another. I also wanted to show the tiny spring leaves that are beginning to appear.

The sound of the skylarks this afternoon was out of this world. These birds always remind me of Shelley's 'blithe spirit' flying 'higher still and higher'. 

Those who are familiar with my blog, will know that I am always drawn to the red buoy. There must have been a stiff breeze blowing at about 3pm as the haunting echoes of the storm bell filled our ears. These sounds always remind me of Robert Southey's ballad, The Inchcape Rock (published 1802), albeit about a rather different location. 

Here are a couple of Southey's verses:


The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.

When the rock was hid by the surge's swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell;
And then they knew the perilous rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.


The eerie shapes above the horizon in the next photo are the remains of Orford Ness. When we moved to Suffolk ten years ago, the red and white lighthouse could still be seen as a well-loved landmark.

David on the skyline

The rare and exquisite flora of Shingle Street

 Flora formation

Possibly my favourite pic. of the day: Little Egret with yellow feet and a plume!

We saw our very first Little Egret near Penclawdd on North Gower when we moved to Swansea in the early 1990s. It seemed very exotic at the time. The species was first seen in 'significant numbers' in the UK in 1989.

What is on the sand bar?

The landward side, with new reeds on the left.

A lone seal. We could see it moving through the lens of our cameras and binoculars.


What exquisite heart-shaped leaves. These are minuscule.

A sign of pure Suffolk air.

And finally, I should give another mention to Blake Morrison's poetry collection, Shingle Street.

Friday 11 March 2022

New Lodger of the Insect Kind

Look who decided to force entry into our home this morning ...

It proved a bit of a squeeze ...

Gently does it!

Perhaps that was a bit ambitious ...

Perhaps there is an easier way in ...

... or out!

I have not yet identified this delightful little bee, but am guessing it is an early masonry bee. Do tell me if you recognise the species. I shall post a photo on iSpot. 

 * * *

Postscript: I posted on iSpot, and it seems the bee is a male Red Mason Bee (Osmia (Osmia) rufa), with its long hairs and 13 segments on its antennae (yes, a kind person on iSpot counted these!).