Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Sunday, 29 April 2012


The yellow bladders belong to Spiral Wrack (Fucus spiralis) on a rock.
These yellow bladders belong to Spiral Wrack (Fucus spiralis) OR (!) suggests another Ispotter - Bladder Wrack (Fucus  Vesiculosus)

I suspect I have too many photographs for this post. But the purpose behind it is to take you from a beach, up a narrow path, to the top of a little cliff beside Portland Harbour in Dorset. To walk it, it would take about three minutes - unless you stopped to look at some of the plants and creatures on the way, which is the theme of this post. What I introduce you to is very selective for the number of plants and birds and shell fish and seaweeds and insects . . . pretty much infinite!

Egg Wrack - (Aschophyllum  nodosum)
Egg Wrack - (Aschophyllum  nodosum)

Many of the rocks on this little beach are covered in seaweed but others, further back from the water, are bare.

A rock flaking on the beach.

We don't have enough words for stones. This is larger than a pebble but smaller than a bolder. I'm trying to think - the rough, exposed bit in the foreground . . . about two and a half feet high? If this weren't supposed to be a blog about plants I could do post after post about the variety of rocks on this one little story-book-style beach.

The cliffs of Charmouth.

This is a massive cliff about thirty-five miles to the west of 'our' beach. You can see the passing of millennia in its stripes. Our little beach is not dramatic like this. Its cliff is a toddler in comparison. But wander a little way along (there are lots of little ins and outs) and you can find yourself sinking in a sticky grey mud of a kind which makes the cliff above dangerous. It's at Charmouth - more or less where the study of fossils began. Many of the rocks on our beach have imprints of the fossils that have fallen out of them - like this one on my other blog.

Back to where we were. We'll walk up the path from 'Our Beach' . . .

One of last year's blackberry leaves.

I've mentioned before how many of last years blackberry leaves have stayed on their bushes through winter. I took this photo on 27th April 2012. Since then, the rains and winds we missed in the autumn and winter seem to have come all at once so I anticipate this leaf will have blown away by the time I go back to the path.

One of last year's blackberry leaves close up.

Here is a close up.

Hoverflies are beginning to make their appearance.

Hoverfly (Myathropa florea) on a blackberry leaf.

Close up -

This one being Myathropa florea - which may make this a good moment to mention the identifications on this post.

I have sought help from two sources. One is from the members of Ispot - where identifications can be made at the same time as a visual resource is being built up by the Open University. As always - if you haven't already taken a look . . . do so!

This time, I've had the additional help of Chris Webster who has a wonderful collection of hoverfly photos on the site 'British Hoverflies'. (There's a link in the tab for IDs at the top of the blog.)

This may also be the moment to wander off the path even further to mention National Insect Week, 25th June - 1st July. (There's currently a banner link at the top of the sidebar.) There will be more information about this nearer the time.

I'm beginning to sound like a notice board!

Dandelions - wonderful from start to finish. Beautifully shaped leaves, wonderfully cheerfully, bright yellow flowers which turn into clocks. Everyone likes to take pictures of the clocks. They are a bit overdone. I realise that. But the reason they are over-photoed is because . . . well, just look!

Close up of Dandelion Clock.

How can they be resisted?

Close to the top of the path - is the clump of elderberry trees I'm following. Now rains have come, the lichen which has been bright yellow throughout the dry weather, is rapidly turning green - it's what it does!

Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina - turning green because the air is damp
Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina - turning green because the air is damp.
When we have dry weather again, it will go back to being bright yellow.
The elderberry shoot we have been 'following' almost obscured by other leaves.

The leaf we have been following since it was a shoot is difficult now to get to because of the undergrowth which has grown in the way. It's also smaller than the other leaves opening around it . . . but it's still visible in the crook of the V shaped branch straight ahead.

And at the very top of the path we have come up

Alexanders in flower, dandelion with clock blown away and young fennel leaves.

alexanders (with the yellow flowers) dandelions (with their clocks blown away) and fennel (the feathery leaves). If this year follows the pattern of other years, chicory and vipers bugloss will grow here too in the summer.

* * *

This is such a long post already, I'll do a double catch up of tree followings next week.


Down by the sea said...

Hi Lucy,
What a wonderful walk and so much to see. Your photo of the hoverfly and dandelion are stunning. If it wasn't raining so hard I would be rushing outside to try taking a picture of a dandelion although yours would take some beating!

Toffeeapple said...

I did enjoy that walk Lucy, thank you. Do you eat the wild Fennel and Alexanders?

Dimple said...

For me, this was a perfect post. Thank you for taking me on your walk!

Mark and Gaz said...

A lovely and rather relaxing post. You live in a beautiful part of the world :) Gorgeous photography as always!

Rowan said...

I think that a dandelion clock with the sun shining on it is one of the loveliest things in the natural world. How interesting about the lichen changing colour when it gets really wet - I didn't know that and shall look for it now as I know. Excellent post!

elaine rickett said...

Great post - it's amazing how much you can find in such a small area, thanks to your observations.

Wildgardener said...

The dandelion clock is a fantastic picture. One of those things than you 'see' every day without actually looking.

Forest Keepers said...

Lucy, thank you for sharing your walk with us. I really enjoyed this post. I am really excited about the ispot web site you mentione. I had not heard about it yet but can't wait to dig into it.

Donna said...

What a fabulous walk Lucy...I really love the orange lichen!

catmint said...

all I can say Lucy, is that it is a good thing that you don't offer walks like this every day. I would get so fat and unfit because I would be perfectly satisfied to do all my walking sitting in front of my computer. The only thing I beg to differ: it is not simply not possible for dandelion seedheads to be overdone! I can't pick out one element I love the most - I love it all the most.

PatioPatch said...

Lucy, I very much enjoyed the walk, illustrated here, there and everywhere will wonderful things to learn abour or just to look at. Your posts are unique and enchanting

city said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

Unai said...


Amazing photographs