Assynt Seashore Project

Assynt Seashore Project – background

This project is a local follow-up to the Highland Seashore Project (HSP), which has been wound up after three productive years. During the HSP the Field Club had a couple of useful field meetings led by Mike Kendall and decided to try recording for ourselves. So on 27th September 2015 six members met at Culkein Drumbeg (NC1033) where we clambered down the cliff towards Meall Dearg to look at rock pools; after lunch, and on a very low spring tide, we ventured out into the kelp in the channel north of the ‘green’. Several of those present had had some training in marine biology, albeit in their youth, and we were enchanted by the diversity of organisms we came across, but, at the same time, overwhelmed by our ignorance and the problems of readily naming any but a few.

For this reason, amongst others, we have not taken up the recording protocols of the Highland Seashore Project, and have decided to devise our own, more modest local contribution to seashore recording. We have chosen, initially, to focus on two groups of organisms, the brown algae or seaweeds, which are the dominant plant-life in the inter-tidal zone, and molluscs or seashells, which everyone picks up when walking along a strandline. This will not prevent us from recording other organisms of interest, if and when we come across them, provided that putting a name to them is relatively straightforward!

With the rigours of winter bird surveys behind us, Clarinda Chant, Gwen Richards and I thought that we would make a start during February 2016 and chose three easily accessible sites, the beaches at Inverkirkaig, Culkein Stoer and Clachtoll. The aim was to see what the problems were (apart from frozen fingers), to get to know the available literature and to devise a format for recording. An account of our finds may be found here Beachcombing Accounts – Assynt Seashore Project

Clarinda Chant with tangle, Inverkirkaig, 3.2.16. Photo G. Richards
Clarinda Chant with tangle, Inverkirkaig, 3.2.16. Photo G. Richards

Where next? We are still on a fairly steep learning curve, but have decided to press on regardless. Other potential venues are the beaches at Achmelvich and Clashnessie, and the rocky shore between Balchladich and Raffin. If you are interested in joining us at one or more let me know by email (assyntwildlife@gmail.com) or phone me direct (01571 833241).

Ian M. Evans

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Recent Sightings

Kittiwake

c100 adult and 1st-winter birds feeding off Clachtoll (DAH) (24/09)

Tufted Duck

two male birds on Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (22/09)

Merlin

single bird near Stoer Village Hall (DAH) (21/09)

UPDATE on colour-ringed Oystercatcher

we have heard back from the Icelandic Wader Group regarding the colour-ringed Oystercatcher spotted at Bay of Culkein on Tuesday. It was ringed, as an adult, near its nest while it was territory-guarding on 19th May this year; the location was Eskifjorour which is on the east coast of Iceland. We will post a short article on the Field Club's website in the next few days regarding other sightings of colour-ringed birds recorded in Assynt (DAH) (20/09)

Pink-footed Goose

c225, in four skeins, heading east over Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Oh boy, it's autumn! (20/09)

Wigeon

single male in eclipse plumage Loch Inver (DAH) (20/09)

Manx Shearwater

young bird rescued from a garden at Inchnadamph (Chris Rix/Andy Summers). The bird, which was well off-course, was successfully released at Stoer the next day. (18/09)

Oystercatcher

four birds resting on rocks Bay of Culkein (DAH). One of these birds, an adult, had a combination of coloured rings on its legs. The details have been submitted to the appropriate ringing scheme, which appears to be the International Wader Study Group, and we will report back once we hear from them. (18/09)

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