Nature recorders wanted!

Visitors looks for wildflowers

The Colourful Coast Partnership and Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre are launching a new programme of events aimed at getting people out recording the nature the find in their local area.

The Nature Recorders programme will encourage local people to map, identify and record the habitats and species of the Copeland coast.  Stuart Colgate, Recoding Officer for the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre says ‘We have good records of some species but there are still gaps in our knowledge.  We hope these sessions will encourage people to get out, records what they see and upload their results.  This will provide valuable information about the plants and animals of the area that haven’t been well recorded like plants, fungi and most invertebrates.’

To start this process there will be a series of free events, starting next Thursday (24th May) with an ‘Introduction to Biological Recording’ workshop in Whitehaven.  This will cover how to turn random sightings of wild plants and animals into valuable biological records.  These sessions will help volunteers find out more about the habitats and species we find in the area and learn how to submit their records to the Data Centre which can potentially be used for generations to come.

We really want to get people out spotting, identifying and recording wildlife so whether you’re a complete novice or already know the names of plants and animals you see while you’re out and about there will be an opportunity for you to be involved. If you want to gain some new skills, discover more about your local area or contribute to our knowledge and understanding of this amazing area then we’d love for you to be involved.

The free training is open to anyone, if you would like to get involved or would like more information please email or phone 07342088015

Volunteering opportunity – we need you!

Seabirds nesting on the cliffs at St Bees Head, Whitehaven

As the seabirds begin to come back to nest on the cliffs at St Bees Head, a group of organisations are asking people to get involved with surveying the bird colonies this year.

The Colourful Coast Partnership is working with the RSPB, Natural England and Royal Yachting Association to recruit volunteers to take a walk up onto St Bees Head and observe the colonies for any disturbance, whether it comes from the air, the land or the sea.

Dave Blackledge, RSPB site manager, said ‘The bird numbers are increasing every year, which is great, but we need to understand if the birds are getting disturbed while they’re on the cliffs or on the water as this can affect their ability to raise healthy chicks or fish for food. We know that boats and climbers can sometimes unintentionally disturb the birds but we also want to know if there’s anything else, like birds of prey or drones, which could be having an effect’

Volunteers will be asked to go out once a fortnight and observe the seabirds from certain points along St Bees Head throughout the summer months, recording any interesting sightings. It’s not just skilled bird watchers who can get involved.   Sophie Badrick from the Colourful Coast Partnership says ‘Anyone who’s got a pair of binoculars and is happy to walk along the headland spending a few hours every fortnight viewing the birds and making notes can get involved.  We’ll be running a few training sessions in a couple of weeks to get volunteers up to speed and then it’s down to each individual to decide how often and when to go out surveying’.

The records will be collected by Natural England who can assess the levels of disturbance, whether this is an issue at the site and what kinds of activities are causing the issues. This will then allow Natural England working alongside the other Colourful Coast partners to focus on raising awareness to try and reduce the impacts of recreational activities on the breeding seabirds at St Bees Head so that the birds can continue to thrive.

Anyone who wants to get involved or would like more information should email

We are recruiting!

Our Partners the National Trust have an exciting opportunity for a Ranger Trainee to join the teams working on the Whitehaven Coast and in Ennerdale.  The successful candidate for this 2.5 year post will be able to study for a Diploma in Countryside Management whilst gaining practical experience.  Details can be found at  Closing date is 7th May.  What’s stopping you??

Carpet sea-squirt – keep a look out

In March this year storm Emma hit Holyhead Marina, in North Wales, causing significant damage.  Despite efforts to contain debris from the damaged marina, some debris drifted out of the harbour area into the marine environment.  A consequence of this means there is potential for the carpet sea-squirt Didemnum vexillum (D. vex), a marine invasive non-native species, to spread to other areas.

The carpet sea-squirt us capable of forming large, flat colonies which reduce available habitat for other species.  As well as growing over rock, pebbles, boulders, cobbles and gravel, the carpet sea-squirt can also commonly be found on man-made structures such as boats, docks, moorings, ropes, chains, plastic and shellfish aquaculture gear.  More information can be found here.

Prior to Storm Emma the carpet sea-squirt was being contained within Holyhead marina after being fond on some of the floating pontoons and other artificial structures.  These structures were damaged during the storm and have floated some distance – a floating pontoon was found 37km away and polystyrene washed up in Wicklow is believed to have come from the marina.  So, there’s a chance we could find debris washing up on the Colourful Coast.

All sightings of possible debris in England should be reported to Natural England   Where it is possible and safe to do so any debris found should be moved above the high tide line to prevent it from returning to the sea and help remove the risk of further spreading.

An advice note from Natural Resources Wales can be found below

Holyhead Marina Storm Emma Advice note Apr2018- D.vex 

Coastal Countryfile!

Our wonderful West Cumbrian coastline was featured on Countryfile this week!

The team visited Whitehaven to hear about what inspired local born artist Percy Kelly and also spent some time on the cliffs of St Bees with the RSPB hearing (and also seeing and smelling!) about the seabird colonies and why they find the sheer cliffs so ideal for nesting.  They also headed out onto the sea to learn about the voluntary netting ban which we’ve written about in our last post.

Countryfile also visited Walney Island, further down the Cumbrian coast, with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, seeing the only grey seal colony in Cumbria.

You can watch the whole episode here

Voluntary fishing net ban around St Bees

Seabirds nesting on the cliffs at St Bees Head, Whitehaven

The NWIFCA (North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) is working with Natural England and RSPB to call for a voluntary ban on the use of fishing nets around St Bees Headland.

While it’s not common, there have been reports in previous years of birds getting caught in nets.  The voluntary Code of Practice will help to avoid this distressing situation.

The Code of Practice include a ban on the use of nets from 1st March until 15th July.  This covers the main breeding season for razorbills, guillemots and other sea birds which flock to the cliffs at St Bees to lay eggs on the sheer cliff faces.  When these birds dive in search of food they can potentially become caught in fishing nets.  The ban may be extended depending on when the chicks fledge so the NWIFCA and Natural England will continue to monitor the situation throughout the 2018 breeding season.

For more information visit the NWIFCA website.

A Great British Spring Clean on the beach!

Well, what a weekend.  The ‘Beast from the East’ and storm Emma had threatened to cancel our beach cleans but with clear roads, clear(ish) skies and low tides we decided to encourage everyone to wrap up warm and head to the shore.

And what a turn out … 26 people at St Bees on Saturday!  The sun even put in an appearance and there was plenty of chatter and treasure hunting going on alongside the shoreline rubbish searching.  As usual we found all the small stuff – plenty of sanitary products, cotton bud sticks, bottles and the ever present bits of unidentifiable plastic.  In total we collected 16 bags of rubbish which is quite a feat when most of the litter we collected could fit into the palm of your hand.



The weather wasn’t quite as kind on Sunday in Whitehaven, but Jack and his family still came down to tackle the litter at North Shore.  Here, we mostly find fast food wrappers, cups, cardboard and paper and today was no different.  In an hour and a half we had filled 7 bin bags with Jack quickly becoming an expert at finding even the tiniest bits of litter!




A huge thanks to volunteers who gave up their time to come down and help out.  We beach clean regularly so check out the events page for when and where we’ll be next.





Braving the weather to join the Great British Spring Clean

Over the weekend we will be donning lots of warn layers and braving the remnants of the ‘Beast from the East’ to beach clean at St Bees and Whitehaven as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean.

On Saturday we’ll be at St Bees from 2pm – 3pm and on Sunday we’re heading to Whitehaven’s North Shore between 2pm – 3.30pm.

Right, we’re off to buy some cakes to reward those intrepid volunteers who turn up…

Lego on the beach

Lego sea grass at t Bees beach #legolostatsea

While beach cleaning at St Bees today we found our first piece of washed up Lego in amongst the usual plastic debris.  Why is this so interesting you might ask, well, we’ll try and explain…

On 13 February 1997 a container ship, the Tokio Express, was hit by a wave about 20 miles off the Cornish coast.  The wave tilted the ship so violently that 62 containers were lost overboard.  One of those containers was filled with nearly 4.8 million pieces of Lego, many of which were nautical themed.  Soon after cutlasses, flippers, scuba gear, seagrass, spear guns and the odd octopus began to wash up on Cornwall’s beaches.  So it’s possible that our tiny piece of Lego sea grass has been bobbing about in the ocean, not breaking down, being nibbled by fish and other marine creatures for over 20 years before drifting ashore on our coast to, finally, be found in a beach clean and stop being part of the marine pollution problem.

Plastic in the sea doesn’t just decompose, or go away.  Our last blog post has lots of ideas about how you can reduce the plastic you use everyday, or if you want to see if you can find some #legolostatsea of your own join us on our next beach clean, all the details are on our Events page.  To find out more about the lost Lego and see when other pieces have been washed up have a look at the Lego Lost at Sea facebook page.