BRITAINS WILDLIFE FROM A PADDLE BOARDERS PERSPECTIVE!
WHATS LURKING IN AND AROUND OUR SHORES AND RIVERS
With such a wonderful array of wildlife around our shores and on our rivers, as paddle boarders we get a very privileged perspective on such beauty.
"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living".
Sir David Attenborough
We couldn't agree more!! Being up stood up on the water, as opposed to sitting on the water - and additionally not having any kind of noisy motor, affords the benefit of gliding gracefully and peacefully amongst nature. So this week, The Wild Side takes a closer at what you have been reporting on seeing this month and what you might expect to see throughout the year.
OTTERS ON THE RIVER WYE
Running from Mid-Wales to the River Severn - and forming much of the border between England and wales, it is the fifth longest river in the UK at some 135 miles in length. the Wye Valley is considered an area of "Outstanding Natural Beauty".
The river is well known for canoeing, kayaking and in more recent years, paddle boarding. One of it's natural wonders is the otter (Lutra Lutra) - a species that not so long ago, had seen a huge decline, due to over hunting, pollution and other environmental changes. These playful, curious creatures can be seen swimming and diving for food, and keen eyes will spot them amongst the reed beds and overgrowth on the river banks.
If you are unfamiliar with the river environment, SUP groups such as Wye SUP, can offer you guided river tours and tuition if you are new to paddle boarding.
SEALS IN TORQUAY
Head down to the rocky outcrops and quiet bays of South Devon and you might just be lucky enough to cruise around with one of these cheeky chap's!
The grey seal (Halichoerus Grypus) is distinctive with its dog-like head and mottled colour. It's bigger than its cousin the common seal, and loves nothing more than than hanging out on the rocks, amongst the seaweed and occasionally dragging itself in to the waters when its feeling a bit peckish!
They are curious by nature, and may well come and investigate. However, as with all nature, don't be tempted to reach out and touch them or crowd their space.
JELLYFISH - JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE!!
Where as most beach goer's may only come across a jellyfish if it has been washed up on a beach, or the more unfortunate because they have been stung, they are actually pretty elusive in the water ..... unless you are on a paddle board! This time of year, with the waters warming up nicely and the jet stream delivering some more unusual creatures to our shores. There are a wide variety of "squishy's" gracefully pulsating through the waters!
Some of the more common ones you may see are the Compass Jellyfish, Moon Jellyfish and a "By The Wind Sailor" (Velella Velella) - which isn't actually a jellyfish - it's a floating, solitary hydranth, that can be up to 10cm long and blue-purple in colour.
Check out the Marine Conservation Society's guide for further information.
THE WINTER MIGRATION - POOLE HARBOUR
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots on England's South Coast, Poole Harbour is the second biggest natural harbour in the world.
Over 30,000 birds take shelter here during the winter months, or use the area as a pitstop on the way to North Africa. These include Brent Geese, Avocets and the beautiful Osprey.
Many boat trips are offered during this periods, to view the many different species. However, if you are a paddle boarder, you get a "Boards-Eye View" without the crowds. Brownsea Island and Brownsea Lagoon are favourites for the keen bird-watchers, so load up your binoculars, camera and your RSPB guide (and dry-bag of course) and check it out for yourself!
THE MAGIC OF THE MURMERATION - BRIGHTON
Every winter, there is one thing that is guaranteed to put a smile on every Brightonian's face. And that is the winter starling murmerations between the Palace Pier and The West Pier. As the birds gather, so do the crowds and against the backdrop of the stunning winter sunsets, the performance begins.
As the Scandinavian starlings join their British cousins for the winter, the flocks grow to up to 40,000 birds. The West Pier used to attract the larger numbers, but as it has broken down further and further with the storms over the years, the greater numbers can be seen descending on the more fortified Palace Pier.
I will be donning my thermals and dry suit this coming winter to get a boarders perspective on this incredible ariel display. Those that are hardy enough are welcome to join me!
This fabulous video was shot by the fabulous Jason Reeve of Brighton