Jennifer sent in this great photo of an intriguing find from Bognor beach, wondering what it is. I had a faint idea that it might be 'fish teeth' in some sense, and a bit of research confirmed this to be so. What we see above is the pharyngeal plate and teeth, perhaps of a drumfish. These teeth sit back in the throat of various fish species (including goldfish) seemingly with various different uses, such as grinding food and making sounds.

So now if you see something like this on the beach, you'll know what it is.

Thanks Jennifer.

Bristol Natural History Consortium has been running a Meet the Species initiative, as part of Discovering Places, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Campaign to inspire the UK to discover their local environment. As part of this they've been publishing guest blog posts over the last week or so, as it draws to a close. There are two contributions from UKNatureBlog that were included today, on Zebra spiders and the Common Woodlouse (mostly drawn from content previously published here).

This is a good study of a male Eider duck if I do say so myself, but what might surprise is that it was taken at the Penguin pool at Whipsnade zoo, high on the escarpment of the Dunstable Downs and a long way from the coast! As the RSPB will tell you, this is the UK's largest duck and a true seaduck that spends its time out on the waves of the ocean. Except for when it's mixing it with the penguins well inland apparently!

That head is sheer 30s art deco if you ask me – a seriously designer duck! Here's another angle, though it's a shame I didn't get any pictures with the penguins in as well, so you'll just have to believe me.


When I visited the Farne Islands earlier this year, I saw many of the behaviours that had been on tele just a few weeks before on Springwatch when Lolo Williams reported from Skomer – a not dissimilar island full of birds.

That included the not-so-fluffy aspects of island life, which in my picture above shows a Herring gull taking a tern chick. The parents were swooping around above it, but all was lost. Still, Herring gulls and their chicks must eat too.

I think I mentioned previously that the terns on Farne were surprisingly small once you got up close and personal. This photo perhaps helps judge their size a little bit and demonstrates how many of them were nesting directly on the ground amidst the long grasses. That meant you often couldnt' see the chicks at all, but made for good photos as the parents flapped and hovered just above.

So far all my pictures were Arctic terns (or maybe Common – the differences are minor) but this is a Sandwich tern – markedly different without the red accents, and just a yellow tip to the bill. This ones demonstrating that it eats Sand eels, the same as the puffins.

OK, I give up. I've been endlessly reading up on how to tell the difference between a Cormorant and a Shag and I swear this bird demonstrates features attributed to both. To me the head shape says Cormorant so I'm going with that, but it's lacking the colouration on the face that would really confirm it. As seen on Farne, where both are definitely resident.

Another shot from the recent visit to Farne. I really rather like this, for its stark simplicity and art. What do you think?

Next up from my recent trip to the Farne Islands – a Puffin, its bill laden with Sand eels (as required by law for any attempt at an iconic image of the bird). Those of you who watched the last series of Springwatch will know that it can keep on packing those fish in because it has an unusual hinge and backward pointing bits inside the mouth to hold them in place.

UKNB has been on tour to Northumberland, which included a boat trip to the Farne islands at the height of the breeding season. Whilst being dive-bombed from all directions I managed to get some great pictures of Terns, Puffins and other seabirds.

First up is a couple of Arctic terns in flight. I'm pretty sure these are Arctic rather than Common terns as the bill is pure red. The terns were nesting right by the path and often I had to back off in order to photograph them as my big lens has a 6 foot minimum focus!

More pictures to come.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust have a great website with resources to help in surveying many different kinds of wildlife, from ponds to fungi. The forms are designed to be sent back to report on wildlife in Norfolk, but there's so much great information and guidance that they should be of interest to anybody.