Here's the latest from Ray!
The four new species added to the Rambles list in the last fortnight come from very different families. Firstly I found, attached to a large slipper limpet, a red sea-weed called coral weed that had been washed up after a strong northerly. Next came a larch tree, only about 10 metres high that somehow I had not noticed before, growing at the back of the willow wood.. This was quickly followed by a colony of social mining bees making their nest in the vertical bank to the left of Island Hide path, their large bright yellow pollen 'baskets' made them very conspicuous. Without doubt though, the star attraction for me was the black guillemot found close inshore on April 13th. This bird, partially moulted from winter to summer plumage, stayed around for several hours, but was only seen for a short time the following morning. Although it was the third one that I've seen here, for most of our present staff it was a reserve tick. One of the most enjoyable aspects of doing Ray's Rambles has been learning more about some relatively common species. Late last Autumn many people asked me what the hairy caterpillars were that they had seen along the west bank, and I had no idea. Most of them, the caterpillars that is, were covered in tufts of pale brown hairs, some had a gingery tone, while others were much darker. Their faces were shiny black and the basic body colour was also blackish. They appeared again in March this year and I watched two of them spinning silky coccoons on the concrete wall outside Parrinder Hide. This week I flushed a ruby tiger moth from the new sea bank close to the hide and, after reading up about them I discovered that they over-wintered as a caterpillar and that my other observations fitted this species exactly - you live and learn! My year total now stands at 360 and the grand Rambles total is 972 species. Ray Kimber.