Wildlife at the Coast

You may remember that this time last year I put up a blog about Tenby's South Beach, and the coastal birds and washed up animals that we came across on our walk. This year we went back again to see what else we could find.

It was very windy by the time we set off, and we didn't see very much until we got around half way down the beach. The first bird we saw, except for numerous gulls, was a lone Sanderling running along the water's edge, picking around in sand to see what food the sea may have thrown up. We soon realised that there was a small group of them, as well as a small flock of Ringed Plover which, looking back, was exactly what we saw last year!


We continued on, walking very close to the sea, until we found something interesting. A mermaid's purse. It had literally only just been brought up onto the beach by the sea, and so wasn't dehydrated. It turns out this eggcase was in fact that of the Smallspotted Catshark, also known as the Lesser Spotted Dogfish. I have since submitted this into the Shark Trust's Great Eggcase Hunt Project, in which eggcases from across the country are recorded in an effort to gain a better understanding of the numbers of various shark and ray species in the UK.

The Smallspotted Catshark is a small, slender catshark with spotted colouring. It is found in the seas across the majority of Northern Europe, and is one of the most abundant in the area. As for its diet, the Smallspotted Catshark is opportunistic, feeding on a range of crustaceans, molluscs and fish. It was great to see that these animals are in the area. 

To read more about this species, here is a link to the Shark Trust's factsheet on this species: http://bit.ly/1RKkjh3

Smallspotted Catshark
credit Mark Fox, license, no changes made

We came across even more wildlife when we reached the more sheltered, far end of the South Beach. There was a small group of Turnstone in the corner by the shoreline; a bird I haven't seen in quite a while. They were in their winter plumage, as expected, and were all feeding around the patches of seaweed and rocks. 

As well as the Turnstone, there were also a couple of Rock Pipits hopping around on the rocks, quite close to where we were standing, allowing us to get some good photographs, better than anything we got last year.

Rock Pipit

Having reached the end of the beach, we proceeded to walk up the cliff path to see if we could see seals or other marine wildlife from the top. The wind was even stronger at the top, and at times we had trouble staying on our feet. There were gulls and more pipits flying over the cliffs and amongst the tall grasses, but it wasn't until we were beginning to head back to the path off the cliffs that we saw the best bird of the day. A Peregrine Falcon was hunting off the side of the cliffs. It continued flying around the area for a decent amount of time, allowing me to get a few, quite distant photographs.

It was fantastic watching it climb and hang in the air, before diving back down at pace towards the cliffs. It has been a long time since I last saw a Peregrine, so it was great to watch one of these magnificent birds hunting again, especially in such a dramatic location over the cliffs.

It seems that, yet again, a walk down the South Beach has produced some great wildlife - much the same as last year.

you can read last year's post here: http://bit.ly/20ChsHj


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