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Exploring the shoreline


Last year I went with my family on holiday for a few days on the west coast of England, which is a small country to the south of Scotland. It was a quiet spot, but it was next to the beach and as I live about as far away from the sea as it is possible to get in Scotland, I was hoping to go beach combing and to look at the wildlife.

This year I was back there again for four nights - but this time I had an expert guide in Sophie Bagshaw, who is a pretty cool naturalist herself. We spent most of that time on or near the beach - and this is what I learned and found !

I actually found out last year that she spent her holidays nearby when I noticed "S. Bagshaw" carved into the sandstone on the beach, and sent her a message:

It was - and we met up and hung out: turned out I was only about 50 yards away from her ! Later that year she carved my name into the beach as well.

 I had to leave the next day, but I've been in contact with her ever since, so when I knew I was going to be back at the same spot this year, we agreed to meet up again.

The beach is a fantastic place to explore - but it's more like an estuary than by the sea, so it's mudflats and pebbles. Sophie has found some fascinating things there, such as fossils, old fishing weights, and (the day after I left) a dead gannet. 

 I met up with her again and we went for a walk. She is an excellent birdwatcher, and with her I spotted curlews, two kestrels and a peregrine.

We walked up the beach and she showed me this old deserted lighthouse that was around two miles away At the time, the tide was still going out, so it was about eight feet higher than it was in this photo:

It looked abandoned and we thought it would be fun to go in it, but the tide was out so we couldn't. When dad went there the next day, he saw hat the ladders were down and unattached, so we could get up.

The beach was littered with sea shells, empty crab shells and other object that were washed up that day. My brothers thought that the crab shells were really cool so they brought some back and dad found a really big oyster shell.

When me and Sophie were out walking, we found two fossils ! I'm not great with fossils, so it was brilliant to learn. The first is fossilised coral. I'm not sure how old this is, but she said she finds them a lot, so they are probably common.

The second one looks like a crinoid - they lived around 400 million years ago, in the Silurian period, 130 million years before the first dinosaur !

Just off from the beach , there's a old, abandoned house which looks like it was about to be demolished. Me and Sophie went to explore it. There was no way in as all of the windows and doors where boarded up with corrugated iron. The house was next to a still-used barn filled with cows.

Next to the house was smaller sheds. The biggest one of the left had loads of owl pellets in, which we dissected, and a dead mole, but we think that there is a barn owl next at the top because there are loads of their feathers. The middle shed just had wooden poles and barbed wire. The last one had a biohazard sign on it, so we went in. It was filled with loads of fertilisers and other chemicals used in farming. 

When my little brother Sam was out on the beach, he found a metacarpal that looked like it was from a sheep. We thought it was just washed up that day, and the body was out at sea.

Then he found a left pelvis that also looked like it was from a sheep or deer of the same age and size. Definitely not a coincidence.

About an hour later, we found the sheep body. It was near the back of the beach. It still had flesh on it and someone threw rocks on it to break the bones and the skull was smashed.

There was also loads of jelly with bodies washed up on the beach. They feel really wobbly but strong, like hard jelly. This one was about a mile on to the beach.

After four days hanging out with Sophie, my family and I went off to the east coast of England for another four days, and I'll be writing more about one of the places there I visited another time !

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Alison said...

Hi Jake,
Thanks for letting us know where England is! I enjoy your sense of humor.

One thing you might want to consider next time you visit a beach or other outdoor area. While it might seem harmless and fun, carving names or messages in rock features is actually considered a form of vandalism in parks and other natural areas. If everyone who stopped at that beach did it, over time the area could become quite damaged and unsightly. It can spoil the experience of wild nature for future visitors.

There is an educational effort called Leave No Trace that advocates having a light impact on nature. Its principles allow us to enjoy time outdoors without leaving a big "footprint". Based on your interests and keen mind, it seems like you would support these ideas as well. Thanks for reading this post.

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