Wildlife & Nature to See in August : Coastal Life

Wildlife to See in August : Coastal Life

With the school holidays in full swing and the occasional sunny, summer day, many of us head off to the coast for a relaxing day trip or holiday.

© Laurie Campbell: St. Abbs Head

© Laurie Campbell: St. Abbs Head

The coast around the British Isles is not only vast, with over 9000 miles of coastline, it is also varied. With dramatic cliffs, rolling sand dunes, golden beaches and pebbly coves we seem to have a bit of everything. What’s more not only is the scenery specatular but the wildlife is as well. From tiny shells to giant sharks there is something to capture the imagination of everyone. Children, and all those who are young at heart, enjoy spending hour after hour peering into rock pools in search of sea creatures left behind by the tide. Small fish, crabs, star fish and jelly fish can all be examined at close quarters then replaced carefully to be washed back to sea at the next high tide.

Coastal birds often form huge, noisy colonies during the breeding season. Gannets, fulmars, heron gulls, razor bills and guillimots are often present in high numbers with comical puffins being easy to spot in a handful of places. The abundance of these birds in coastal areas leads to it being a good place to spot prey birds such as peregrine falcons. Rough vegetation along coastlines is often ideal for small mammals encouraging red kites, kestrels and owls to hunt along the cliffs. Rare birds such as Choughs and Ravens select cliffs as their homes and it is wonderful to watch these birds soaring around on the wind.

© Laurie Campbell: Common Whelk

© Laurie Campbell: Common Whelk

For those with a healthy dose of patience sitting on a cliff top and staring out over the vast expanse of ocean can bring its own rewards. Whales and dolphins are regularly spotted off the British coast as are giant basking sharks that can grow up to 11 m long. These harmless sharks can be spotted close to shore with their dorsal fin protruding whilst beneath the surf their gaping jaws filtering the sea-water for plankton.

Whatever you choose to do when you visit the sea-side please make sure you treat the area and the creature with respect, as tempting as it is please do not remove shells and pebbles from beaches, and make sure you dispose of litter carefully.