Tonka Toys for big boys

A day of rest for the guys rebuilding the flood defence along the Severn Estuary meant their Jurassic style plant was penned and idle…

Hard to resist capturing the odd image of these caged monsters on my walk with Tilly :)

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I have a new ‘phone

My mobile contract came to an end so I decided to change my provider and get myself a nice new ‘phone and a cheaper contract… well it made sense to me! 

So the ‘phone is nothing special and not even a new model, it’s a Nokia Lumia 635, but then I don’t need much so why spend money I can ill afford? I’ve used Nokia mobile ‘phones for years and thought I’d stick with them… nothing to do with brand loyalty, just laziness. I’m used to the way Nokia do things so know how their ‘phones work hence don’t have to learn new systems. 

Anyway I thought I’d give the ‘phone’s camera a go while I was out walking Tilly this morning and capture some of the late spring flowers that are still blooming… and here’s what I came home with:

The images were all taken with the camera settings switched to ‘automatic': I like to do this initially so I can get an idea how well the camera handles light conditions, colour variation, etc. The results are relatively pleasing, with the exception that the Wood Orchid shot in bright sunlight is somewhat burnt out. 

I’ll have to play with the manual settings at some stage and see what difference over-riding ‘auto’ makes. 

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Oi! Please watch your step

If you’re not careful, you’re going to tread on something!

Walking in the shallows

Walking in the shallows

Well okay you’re not likely to step on any of the bigger fish, or the smaller ones come to that since they mostly move so quickly like the goby pictured below.

Goby

Goby

What you may do is damage some of the more delicate things…

Poking its head out

Poking its head out

This little guy takes over empty worm burrows, excavating the space to make himself a home (you can see his spoil pile spread around on the surface). He’ll spend a lot of his time hiding below the surface, popping out to snaffle the odd passing morsel. He’s a member of the sand eel family.

Filamented Sand Eel

Filamented Sand Eel

The tiny stripy guy here is a filamented sand eel (I think!). He’s quite hard to spot until he ventures over a patch of consistently lighter coloured floor as here.

Then again there are those things that are waiting to get their own back and do a little damage to the unwary.

Spiny Urchins

Spiny Urchins

These spiny urchins don’t actively go out of their way to attack swimmers, but anyone who treads on one will certainly know about it because those spines are really sharp.

Whether you swim in it or just paddle around it enjoy the seashore, but be aware… you will not be alone out there 😉

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A bit of a conumdrum

I can’t make up my mind about this little damsel… is she a Maldives Damselfish or a Staghorn Damselfish? Perhaps a Silvered Damselfish?

Damselfish, but which one?

Damselfish, but which one?

Yes Usky has yet another sub-species identification conundrum.

Unidentified Damselfish

Unidentified Damselfish

It’s a good job I’m not stressed about this isn’t it? Otherwise I could be mistaken for a damsel-in-distress! 😆

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What shade is your lipstick?

Juvenile Naso 'Lipstick' Tang

Juvenile Naso ‘Lipstick’ Tang

The naso tang, commonly known as the Orangespine Unicornfish, or Lipstick Tang, is a Pacific species native from Hawai’i southward to central Polynesia, westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa.

The body of this fish is light to dark gray. It has a patch of bright yellow on the forehead with an yellow accented line that extends from below the eye down to behind the mouth. The body of the fish darkens with maturity and males grow ‘streamers’. The above image of a juvenile naso tang.

So when I spotted what I thought was an adult naso tang swimming along a Red Sea reef I started getting really excited because my first thought was ‘this fish shouldn’t be here!’

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Turns out the fish wasn’t a naso tang, but a naso elegans: common names include Elegant Unicornfish, Orangespine Unicornfish, Lipstick Surgeonfish, Indian orange-spine Unicorn, Smoothheaded Unicornfish.

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Identifying fish species can be a bit of a nightmare as mistakes can be easily made. I thought for a short while I’d found a fish well out of place while swimming in the Red Sea, but sadly for me a little research has highlighted my mistake.

Naso Elegans

Naso Elegans

Right or wrong identification it is still a beautiful fish don’t you think? So what shade of lipstick is your favourite?

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Observing the observer

It amused me while I was swimming in the Red Sea to find myself being watched almost as closely as I was watching the fish swimming around me on the reef. In this particular instance the observer was a Parrotfish.

Parrot Fish

Parrotfish

Parrotfish get their name from their mouth parts, which resemble a parrot’s beak and are used to graze algae from the living coral. There are around 90 species of these brightly coloured fish some of which, like the one photographed here, are extremely inquisitive and are not shy when it comes to approaching ‘foreign’ objects floating around their environment.

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Spring is sprung

A kid’s rhyme we used to use (and abuse) when I was a sprog and I bet you know it…

Spring has sprung,
The grass has ris,
I wonder where the flowers is?

Well let me tell you there are plenty of Spring flowers turning their little faces to the sun in the places where I walk Tilly. Just look at these:

These were grabbed with my mobile ‘phone, so maybe not the best quality but certainly good enough to suggest a walk in the countryside for other wild flower lovers. :)

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Up close and personal

In my last post I spoke about ‘swimming with the masses‘ on the local reef at Sharm el Sheik. Here’s another example of the type of fish who are more than happy to swim with/around visitors.

Zebrasoma desjardinii - Desjardin's Sailfin Tang

Zebrasoma desjardinii – Desjardin’s Sailfin Tang

These are one of several species of Sailfin Tang common in the Red Sea. This particular type is known as Desjardin’s Sailfin Tang and yes they really were so close the fish on the right brushed my face as it swam past. I guess it could be a little off-putting to some to be ‘mugged’ by a shoal of fish, but I loved it and can’t wait to repeat the experience.

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Among the masses

Swimming in the bay from the beach in front of the Iberotel Palace in Sharm el Sheik is a pretty boring experience, which can be made far more interesting by either walking or taking the hotel’s courtesy boat to the reef that runs along the left hand side of the bay (the recommended safe swimming area is marked in red on the image below).

The bay at Sharm el Sheik

The bay at Sharm el Sheik

Walking around to the reef takes approximately 10 minutes, but does mean crossing several ‘private’ beach sections and manoeuvring around a couple of fences. The hotel’s courtesy boat runs regularly and makes the crossing to the small jetty to the left of the red marked area in around 5 minutes.

The recommended safe swimming area

The recommended safe swimming area

The abundance of marine life is apparent as soon as you enter the water and progress along the reef. I lost count of the number of species on display here, but these little guys literally wait to mob swimmers as they take the plunge.

Scissortail Sergent (Abudefduf Sexfasciatus)

Scissortail Sergeant
(Abudefduf Sexfasciatus)

For the most part these are scissortail sergeant fish (the silver and black stripy ones) with black butterfly fish.

Black Butterfly and Scissortail Sergeant fish

Black Butterfly and Scissortail Sergeant fish

You’ll find numerous other types here, but these guys will swim with you in ‘convoy’ forming your own private shoal as you explore the denizens of the reef.

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Brilliance beneath the waves

Many people fall in love with the brightly coloured fish found swimming in the warm waters of the Red Sea, but in truth there are just as many wonderful colours to be seen among the varieties of coral and molluscs on view. Take this stunning blue clam for instance:

Blue Clam

Blue Clam

These are abundant on the reef and come in all sizes… you wouldn’t want to put your fingers too near the bigger ones, believe me!

Then there are the worms… several varieties and no idea what they are called, but some of them, like these tiny feathery orange ones, are very pretty too:

Orange worms

Orange worms

These really are very small and grow among the corals. If you get too close they shoot backwards into their burrow, so just the one (not very good) shot of the little chaps.

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