Stonechat (m) (Explored) by Tom Lee Via Flickr: Just as I was heading back to the car in preparation for collecting my granddaughter from school, this beautiful male stonechat posed briefly on this dead branch. Backlighting made the exposure tricky but I think it came out OK in the end.
You think you’ll have a long walk, you’ve got a whole day free. Take the train. One change. Find your way out of the town, you think you’ll find the way. Find the track. You’ll need four, five hours, more allowing to get lost. Back in a loop, you think. Then the pub. Then something comes up, you can’t say no.
So, you could do a short walk instead. One you’ve done before. The same paths. You know the way. But that’s the rub: you’ve done it before, so why do it again? In the end you give in, you think you may as well. It’s only later, when you’re on the path, as you feel the work in your calves and your thighs and your chest that you see: you’ve never done it before, how could you have? How could the future ever be in the past?
Then you halt: a blue-black arrow dashes a few feet above the ground: your first swallow of the summer.
Malling Down, Lewes, Sussex 13 April 2016
where: OS Explorer Map 122 (Brighton & Hove); look for lane in Wheatsheaf Gardens, opp Lewes Working Men’s Club on Malling Street for way in to Malling Down. Nearby stations: Lewes, Glynde; The Trevor Arms is next to the station.
Erin Pettifer, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Marine Officer, welcomes you to the fascinating world of the cuttlefish.
‘Who are cuttlefish related to?’ Cuttlefish are cousins of octopus and squid – all known as cephalopods. Perhaps more surprisingly, as they are molluscs they’re relatives of snails, slugs and mussels too!
‘How do they swim?’ In cuttlefish the shell that many molluscs characteristically have is internalised – many of you will have seen these ‘cuttlefish bones’ that are a common sight in our strandlines. These are made up of tiny chambers within which the cuttlefish can regulate the amount of gas to water to achieve the correct level of buoyancy. They are then able to swim with the help of their fringing fins. When startled they can use a powerful burst of jet propulsion to thrust rapidly backwards, often releasing a smoke screen of black ink to confuse predators and enable escape.
’How many tentacles do cuttlefish have?’ Surrounding their mouth are eight short arms with suckers specialised for grasping prey after it has been captured with its two longer, extendible tentacles with denticulated (very finely toothed) suckers. When potential food such as fish or shrimp swim near the cuttlefish it can alter the colour of its skin while waving its arms in a mesmerising display to lure prey within reach of their tentacles which they rapidly shoot out to grab them!
‘Can they really change colour?’ Yes!! They can control both their colour and patterning using special cells called chromatophores. They’re more skilful than chameleons even, able to change colour immediately and their texture to perfectly blend with their surroundings! Rapid pattern change is used both to confuse potential predators and in courtship.
… Oh, and did I mention they have three hearts and are thought to have the highest intelligence of any invertebrate?! I definitely have a soft spot for these amazing creatures!