My first reaction to this photograph was that it was not a good enough to grace the Internet; then, on reflection, I thought that as my motives are not to display exceptional photographs (because I do not take exceptional photographs) but to show nature as we tend to see it then is a fairly typical view of a pochard (Aythya ferina)!
Pochard are related to the tufted duck and are often seen in the company of them, they both favour fresh water locations. In general, however, while the 'tuftie' is an active duck, always going somewhere, doing something, saying something, the pochard is much more laid back. In fact, they seem to spend most of the time drifting around, often with their head under their wing like this one.
Not as common as the tuftie, the pochard has unmistakable grey flanks and an attractively coloured maroon neck and head; rusty coloured perhaps hence ferina - 'of iron'. When the head comes out from under the wing it is often hunched up with little trace of the neck and the head has a rather pointed appearance!
Whilst bladder wrack is the best known of the wrack seaweeds the one most often seen is actually the channelled wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata). Growing freely near the high water line it is adapted to withstand long periods of exposure to the air without drying out. The weed that is out of the water the longest is usually blacker than the paler colour of that which is covered for longer. It does not have bladders for flotation as it rarely needs to float. It may appear to have bladders at the ends of its fronds but the swellings are not full of air, they contain a jelly substance and are the fruiting body of the seaweed. Channelled wrack grows in large masses and can be seen on sea walls, quays and piers as well as the upper reaches of rocky shorelines but each plant only grows to about 18 inches long due to the amount of time it is our of water. It is common around British shores and Dorset is no exception to that. In Scotland it has been used as cattle fodder but I was surprised to r…
The centre of the web is a funnel in which the spider waits. Around the entrance are lots of single strands, a bit like trip wires, that stop insects from an easy escape and gradually bring them nearer to the central funnel from where Agelena can strike!
I have heard people refer to these as Funnel Web Spiders which, of course they are not. Funnel Web Spiders are renowned for being very poisonous where as this spider is quite harmless (to humans).
The are extremely nervous creatures and quickly retreat in to their funnels which makes photographing them very difficult.