Thursday, March 2, 2017

Skye - on the Beach again

Just worked six days straight but off today, so zipped off down to the beach. I have a brand new compound microscope, so spent a bit of time grabbing green seaweeds (Ulva-type stuff) from the upper shore, I can manage 800x magnification now (though image quality is a bit iffy at top whack) so I figured I could suss any alga I brought back. Which, in fact, I did. Unfortunately it was mostly more of the same everywhere I went! I managed two new ones though

This is Rhizoclonium riparium at 200x magnification
And this is Rosenvingiella polyrhiza at 400x magnification
I'm quite happy with the compound, it's a nightmare to take photo's through but in real life it's good fun exploring things at such huge zooms. My other microscope tops out at 40x, you can see why I had to leave some of last week's seaweeds unidentified. 

I scraped off a piece of an encrusting bryozoan from the underside of a rock at the lower shore. Through the new compound it was revealed to be a thing of rare beauty, but somehow I couldn't align the camera to the eyepiece very well so you'll just have to take my word for that. This was about the best I could do, definitely needs a bit of improvement! 

Schizoporella unicornis - note the avicularia beside the orifice on the upper two zooids
Somewhat larger than anything else so far mentioned were the NINE Butterfish that I found hiding beneath rocks (new record that!) plus the single Shore Rockling shown below. This is the third or fourth one I've found here, they are always this general size (age?) I guess these youngsters hide away beneath rocks between the tides and the adults, which can be a foot or so long and attain over a pound in weight, loiter in the deeper water. All hoping to avoid the local Otter no doubt.

This is the only species of Rockling I've found here - so far
The local Grey Herons forage along the weed-covered rocks as the tide drops, I'm sure Butterfish and Shore Rockling are their commonest prey items. Or maybe Green Shore Crab, not sure. Also found amongst the rocks was a chiton. Usually I take a couple of pics, get back indoors and fail to clinch the ID. This time I brought it back with me and finally added Lepidochitona cinerea to my list. It's common around much of the British coastline and the one you're most likely to encounter in the higher half of the beach. Here's a rather crappy pic, it was uncurling at the time. I gave up waiting for it to flatten out. It's still in the process of uncurling as I type this. Chitons aren't renowned for being fast movers.

Pathetic microscope shot of Lepidochitona cinerea
Also managed to find a couple of Striped Venus Chamelea gallina amongst the exposed rocks, strange that they weren't buried in the sands further out. The locals eat these apparently. 

Yum - doesn't it look so very appetising....
Despite the day being quite sunny, it was still pretty cold and I was caught out twice by hail showers. Luckily neither lasted more than about ten minutes, but there's not a whole lot of cover to be had out on Uig Beach and nowhere to get out of the wind! I quit before a third shower hit, quickly adding Salpingus planirostris to the tally, found beneath a stone on top of a drystone wall.

My second species of Salpingus for NG3963, both decent finds in this part of the world.

363 - Rosenvingiella polyrhiza (marine alga)  - Lifer
364 - Rhizoclonium riparium (marine alga) - Lifer
365 - Halichondria panicea (sponge)
366 - Lepidochitona cinerea (mollusc) - Lifer
367 - Schizoporella unicornis (bryozoan)
368 - Salpingus planirostris (beetle)