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Columbus Crab in a Coconut!

10th July 2022

With less than ten Scilly records, this Columbus Crab surrounded by goose barnacles, I discovered in a coconut that I picked up at sea off the west of St Martins today. Image by Scott Reid

I haven’t been out in my kayak as often as I wished this year so far. This morning I arrived on the South Beach of Tresco. My plan was to quickly cover the two pools and then move on to another island maybe. However, at the Great pool while in the Swarovski Hide, I spotted a BLACK-TAILED SKIMMER hawking just in front of the hide. It proved very mobile giving me very good flight views in the hour that I unsuccessfully tried to get a record shot of it. A good start to the day as it proved to be only the third Scilly record, hot on the heels of a male only last year at Porth Hellick. Opposite the hide, there were a single Tufted Duck, Redshank and Greenshank and screaming together low over the buildings at the west end of the pool, were 9 Swift. On the Abbey Pool of note were 12 Grey Heron with a fly over Whimbrel. After the Whimbrel flew off south, news came on the WhatApp Group that Rob Lambert had an adult Laughing Gull fly straight through off the east side of St Martins towards Tean. Shortly afterwards I was back in the kayak, power rowing along the south and east beaches of Tresco. Two hours later after covering the beaches off St Helens, Tean and the south of St Martins, for my effort I got cracking views of 26 Mediterranean and 30 Black-headed Gull off Old Grimbsy. A detour out to Man-a-vaur produced good numbers of Guillemot and Razorbill, 4 Puffin and only my second Scilly sighting of a Bridled Guillemot after my first last year.

In search of the Laughing Gull in my kayak, just east off Old Grimsby, Tresco, I came across some 26 Mediterranean Gull, including three juveniles. However, there was a ENE blowing and made it very difficult for photography in the choppy conditions.

This Gannet was also feeding well diving where the Med Gulls were hanging out. Out of the many pics I took of it, this is the only image that I got in focus.

After seeing my first ever Bridled Guillemot on the same day last year east of Bishop Rock Lighthouse from my kayak, I was kinda of surprised to see this one on the lower rocks of Man-a-vaur

The auks were only an arms lengths away from me but I was being tossed around by the very conditions and could only get a few images of them including this Razorbill

And getting a shot of any of the Puffins was near to impossible

Approaching Tean, it started o get worse as the NEE picked up making it hard work for me to push through the water and as result, getting soaked to the bone as I hit every wave. It was while off the South of St Martins that I paused to pick up a coconut floating on the sea. I could see Goose Barnacles attached inside it and placed it on top of the kayak in front of me. At the same time I spotted the first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the year for Scilly circling high towards Tean.

This was the only shot I got in focus of the first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the year, from the twenty or so that I took. It was also my earliest juvenile by nine days after an individual I had last year two miles west of Samson while out kayaking.

Nearby, I also had this young Great-black backed Gull that appears to have just come out of it’s nest.

I returned home shortly after 17.00 and was asked to work for an hour before getting stuck into the coconut. Nothin left of it to eat but to break it open and see what’s living in among the Goose Barnacles as it had crossed all the way across the Atlantic. I turned it upside down and out dropped a crab into the cup of my hand. As the coconut came across from the Caribbean, I strongly expected it be a Columbus Crab but needed help in identification and called Scott and Others. Scott turned up immediately and confirmed that it was a Columbus Crab! Shortly after, there was a small crowd gathered on Holgates Green, from folks just passing and being nosey in what we were looking at and locals and residents who twitched it. As the crab would probably die, later on in the evening, it was decided to give the crab a chance of surviving and Scott and I met at Morning Point where he gently put it into the water. With the ENE wind, we observed it drift north with the tide and hoped that it avoided Samson and out into the open Atlantic. Cracking day all round and a change from it being birds that were the highlight but instead the third Scilly record of Black-tailed Skimmer and my first ever Columbus Crab!!

All images above of the Columbus Crab were taken by Martin Goodey and with less than ten Scilly records, it was also a new species of crab for him

Columbus Crab on top of the coconut it dropped out of

The Goose Barnacles that the Columbus Crab was hanging out with. Both images by Martin Goodey

Image Scott took of the Columbus Crab tucked away in the shell at that you can make out at the bottom of the coconut with the Goose Barnacles just before he put it in the water. We observed it drift off north with the tide hopefully into the open sea.

Just as Robin turned up to twitch the crab, to my surprise a first for him also, I had the coconut in my right hand and Henry the baby Hedgehog in the other. Henry visits the garden everyday and drinks out of the bird bath and eats the bird food as well at the same time as the Starlings. Following in the footsteps of his parents who just happen to be in the garden as I’m writing now!

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Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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