Saturday, 23 July 2016

Druridge Bay's minibeasts put on a summer with a cast millions strong

High summer and the Bay’s smaller inhabitants are in their element. With avocet chicks and egrets to admire it is easy to overlook but stop in your tracks and get down to flower or mud level for a treat.  The ragwort flowers are currently home to swarms of shiny pollen beetles. You don’t have to go far from the Drift Cafe to find them in hordes, along with burnet moths resplendent in their black and red warning livery. The flower beetles are rotund and shiny, ready fliers that ping and lift off in the afternoon’s heat. Tempting to wonder how many there are, just for brief week. You could work this out by counting how many on a few ragwort heads, then how many ragwort flowers along a few paces of road, then how many paces long the coast. This would still be an underestimate but is a good way to tune into their world. Then go back to the Drift and have a cake to celebrate working in millions.
Next, the mud....

Down at mud level is exciting too. Here is a carpet of mud flies on one of the subsidence ponds at Blakemoor. Their world is a startling up-and-down, the mud pocked and teased into blancmangy mounds. These flies expertly trace a precise line, just above the water but not too far back where the mud begins to harden. Presumably the shifting goo is to their liking. They tip toe, almost imperceptibly, creeping across the ooze, occasionally taking to flight in slow drifts is your shadow unnerves them. They do not fly far, seemingly focused wholly on their beloved mud.
Further out on the water skate silvered long headed flies, more active, rather piractical, although the couple on the left of the photo below apparently creeping up on a flock of mud flies in this photo are looking for smaller prey where a film of water still overlies the mud.
They are skittish, alternating burst of speed skating with outraged hops and leaps if a pair approaches too close.
The heavy heat of July is their time and a beautiful invitation into lives we overlook, which is our loss

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