Archive for the ‘MCS talks’ Category

Stuck in the mud

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Anemone photographed at Roa Island 2015

The talks on the 13th January looked at life that crawls over the sands of the Bay. Grazers, predators and carrion feeders, these animals have an eye (nose or tentacle) to their best chance, and armour, spines and poison to defend against the rest. Starfish and dogwhelks making shellfish soup, the long-lived lobster (if she isn’t caught and eaten), or the mysterious life of the shrimp – before she is potted…

In our next meeting, we will look at the couch-potatoes of the Bay. Animals that, having found a place suitable to put down roots, have stopped there for the rest of their lives. The tides of the Bay bring food to their waiting mouths, armed with suction pumps or waving tentacles to catch the bounty as it is swept by. There is no terrestrial equivalent to the animal gardens in Morecambe Bay.

Presenters are Louise Smail (Sponges and shellfish), Barry Kaye (Barnacles, bryozoa and worms) and Gordon Fletcher (anemones and sea firs)

Stuck in the mud: Wednesday, 10 February at 19:30 at the Gregson Arts and Community Centre, 33 Moorgate, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 3PY. All are welcome, £2.00 admission.

Wanderers of the sand

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Bernard the hermit crab

At our December meeting we looked at some of the birds and fish that use the Bay – waders feeding on the rich pickings in the mud while the tide is out, replaced by flatfish swimming in with the tide to feed while the mud banks are immersed. The Bay is ranked second most important area for migratory birds in the UK, offering a vital stop-over point on the East Atlantic Flyway, connecting wintering grounds in South Africa with feeding and breeding grounds in Norther Canada, USA and Russia. Rather less is known about the fish population, but both birds and fish are free to move in three dimensions, and have the freedom to exploit the Bay. Our next talk looks at groups of animals that have more limited movement, and must stick to channels, or suffer being flooded and dried out twice a day…

Hunters and hunted – those that crawl the sands of the Bay are an alien band of creatures, armoured, multi-armed, poisonous; whatever it takes to survive… Bernard the hermit crab (above) has sharp eyes, but he is too slow to escape the fish that might snack on him, so he retreats into an old whelk shell, guarding the entrance with his impressive claws.

On Wednesday the 13th January we will have three short talks on starfish, crustaceans, slugs and snails:

‘Wanderers of the Sand’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 13th January at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

The Freedom of the Bay

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Photo of a peregrine falcon
At our last meeting we ventured back in time to the last Ice Age, when the Bay was scoured out from the underlying rock by glaciers making their way down from the Scottish Highlands and the peaks of the Lake District. Since then the Bay has been filled with fine silts to a depth of 80m in places, leaving a shallow, productive, estuarine environment. The plants at the bottom of the food-chain in the Bay are microscopic unicellular algae called ‘phytoplankton’, and their lives are governed by the tides and river currents, and they are so small that you may have overlooked them, even though massive numbers of them live in the Bay…

On the 9th December we will turn our attention to two, more visible, groups of wildlife that use the Bay – the fish and the birds. These animals use the winds and the tides, and are able to hunt and explore as they see fit. Among the bird life of the Bay you may spot Percy the peregrine falcon. If you’re lucky you’ll see him doing a ‘fly-past’ over the bay during the autumn and winter and causing a commotion!

‘The Freedom of the Bay’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 9th December at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

The Freedom of the Bay (PDF 55kB).

See our diary for updates or more events.

Peregrine Falcon photo credit: Mike Baird via Wikipedia.

Meet Erika, she is an economic migrant…

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Erika Morecembe, photo Gordon Fletcher at Roa.

She looks pretty fearsome, and she will give you a nasty nip if you annoy her, but, like any good parent, all she wants is to give her children a good start in life. To do that she has walked to Roa Island in Morecambe Bay from the deep waters of the Irish Sea. The shallow waters of the Bay are warmer, so her eggs will develop more quickly, and when they hatch there will be an abundance of food – as Morecambe Bay is one of the most productive environments on the planet – honest! (On land you would have to go to a rainforest to do better – yet Morecambe Bay is only a bus stop away!)

Over the winter period Lancashire MCS will be presenting ‘Morecambe Bay at the Gregson’. The first event ‘Introducing Morecambe Bay’ will be on Wednesday November 11th at 19:30. There will be two short talks suitable for a general/family audience, that will introduce the Bay – how it was formed, and what makes it important to the wildlife that calls it home.

‘Introducing Morecambe Bay’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 11th November at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

Introducing Morecambe Bay (PDF 90kB).

See our diary for updates or more events.

Heysham Safari

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Photograph of children rock-pooling at Heysham safari 2015

The Bay ‘Super-Estuary’: After the last ice age, the ice sheets that scoured out Morecambe Bay retreated, leading to the formation of the Irish Sea, and flooding the Bay itself. While it still reaches depths of 80m at Lune Deeps, most of the Bay has been filled in with sediment brought down by the rivers Wyre, Lune, Keer, Kent and Leven to form the largest network of intertidal mudflats in the UK.

Satellite imagery shows that the bay as a whole has a very high primary productivity. Fixing around 1.5kg of organic carbon per square meter every year, this ecosystem is one of the most productive in the world. Despite this powerhouse of growth, life in the Bay tends to keep itself hidden, so on Saturday 28th September, Gordon Fletcher led a ‘Heysham Safari’, to expose some of its less commonly spotted inhabitants.

The event, organised with Morecambe Bay Partnership, was a great success, with twenty five participants filling the restaurant at the Royal Hotel, Heysham, for Gordon’s talk! The talk was followed by a shore walk around Throbshaw Point, where we found and identified 26 species in a little over an hour.

Thanks to everyone for attending, and helping to make for such an enjoyable occasion!

Marine Life ID course

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Marine_life_montage

Wherever you are in the UK, you are only a few miles away from a true wilderness, were very little of the plant or animal life is tamed or cultivated.

If you would like to know a little more about the wilderness on your doorstep, you are cordially invited to our Marine Life ID course, where members of the local group will provide short introductions to many of the important marine groups – many of which have no terrestrial equivalent…

Marine Life ID course
By Lancashire MCS Local Area Group, with support of the Society of Biology
Saturday 18th July for 10:00 AM at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve
Price £10
Booking essential Email: Secretary(AT)lancashiremcs.org.uk

For more details, please download our brochure.

Photo-montage: All but one of the photographs in the montage above were taken in the UK, and four were taken in Morecambe Bay. Photos by Gordon Fletcher, Barry and Jo Kaye. CLICK IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW!

Morecambe Bay Underwater Safari by Gordon Fletcher

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Photo of a dragonet, one of the most exotic fish to be found around the British Isles, by Gordon Fletcher.

Wednesday 10th June, 19:30hrs at Capernwray Dive centre

In a change to our published program, we are pleased to be able to announce that Gordon will be presenting his ‘Morecambe Bay Underwater Safari’. This is a personal account of 20 years of encounters with the diverse sea life to be found in Morecambe Bay.

£2 admission, all welcome

MCS Marine Life ID course at Leighton Moss Nature Reserve

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Saturday 18th July 10:00-17:00: Members of the Lancashire MCS will be presenting an introduction to marine life, with a particular focus on life in the Bay area and the North West Coast of the UK. This course is suitable for beginners, and introduces many of the important groups of marine life, from shore plants to fish. Price £10 per person.

Booking is essential for this event, please contact us to confirm your place.

Download our poster for more details (PDF 446kB).

Events in June

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

With the start of summer, we have a lot of practical events coming up for you! We begin with two events celebrating World Environment Day:

Friday 5th June 14:30-18:00: Gordon is leading the ‘Morecambe Bay Safari’ at the Royal Hotel, Heysham. This is followed by a guided beach walk. Meeting organised by MBP; £5 admission, booking essential: morecambebay.org.uk/events/marine-life-bay

Friday 5th June 18:00 to 18:00 6th June: Members of the MCS will be helping out at the Stanah BioBlitz (Wyre Estuary Country Park, River Road, Stanah, FY5 5LR). We will have a stand at this event on the Saturday, but local members will be available for much of the rest of the event, helping to ID marine life from two boat trawls of the estuary itself.

Following this we have our first meeting of the year at Capernwray Dive Centre:

Wednesday 10th June 19:30-20:30 Morecambe Bay Cycle Way by Louise Smail. This will look at the new cycle way which now runs along the whole length of the Bay. Admission £2, all welcome. Download our poster (PDF, 102kB), or view the location in Google Maps.

Saturday 20th June 11:00 to 11:00 21st June: The Formby BioBlitz will be attended by members of the National MCS

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June we hope to have a stand at the Morecambe Bay Kite Festival

hope you can join us!

Barry Kaye
(Chairman, Lancashire MCS)

Meeting dates change

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Over the winter our meetings will be moving to the second TUESDAY of each month, starting in November. Meetings will be in the cinema, upstairs at the Gregson Centre, 33 Moore Gate, Lancaster, LA1 3PY.

The new venue offers us banked seating for 25, with full slide/video projection facilities. The next meetings are:

Tuesday 11th November: Guide to anemones (cnidaria) by Gordon Fletcher (local area group), plus a short Beachwatch annual review by Jo Kaye (local area group). All welcome, admission will be £2.

Tuesday 9th December: Annual review, AGM, quiz! Free admission; all are welcome, but only MCS members can vote at the AGM (please bring proof of membership).

We are very grateful to the Gregson for accommodation over the winter period.