Heritage Coast – your chance to find out more…

Blue skies over head and sand blowing across the beach at St Bees

We’re really excited that the extension proposals for the St Bees head Heritage Coast are now out for public consultation and we’ve had some people asking us about them, wanting to know more.  So, we thought we’d invite you to drop in and look at the plans, find out more, have a cup of tea, chat to us about your thoughts and then feedback your opinions.

 

We’ll be upstairs at the Beacon Portal on Saturday 9th February from 11am until 2.30pm. Drop in any time and have a cuppa, have a chat and find out more about our coastline and what makes it so special.  It’s also a chance for you to find out more about the work of the Colourful Coast Partnership, National Trust and find out what events we’ve got planned for the area this year.

 

We hope to see you there.

Whitehaven beach clean – the results are in!

Yesterday we had a whopping 22 volunteers joining us at our regular Whitehaven beach clean, which is fantastic!  We decided to make use of the big numbers and do a Beach Watch survey of the beach alongside collecting all the litter we could find.

IMG_20180914_092400_673

Together we collected and recorded 623 pieces of litter with over 60% of what we collected being plastic or polystyrene.  The majority of what we found was sourced from the public, which means it was litter dropped by people – we found a lot of fast food waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and sweet wrappers.  All of which was picked up by our dedicated volunteers before it was washed out to sea to become part of the global marine litter crisis.

The results from the survey can be found here 181017 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 17 Oct 2018

Its fantastic to see so many people coming along to help us tackle the marine litter problem.  In total we collected 25 bags of litter, lobster pots, a deck chair and part of a sofa! As always a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came along to help out – especially little Archie who missed a morning at nursery to come down but had a great time.

An unfortunate discovery

While beach cleaning last week our Project Officer discovered a porpoise washed up on Whitehaven’s North Shore.  While the creature had clearly been dead for some time, so there was no question that it could be a live stranding, we still reported the individual to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP).  They confirmed the individual as a female harbour porpoise due to the spade shaped teeth (dolphins have needle shaped teeth).  Due to the level of decomposition there was no way to determine cause of death.

cof

cof

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) has been running since 1990 and is funded by Defra and the Devolved Administrations. They coordinate the investigation of all whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), marine turtles and basking sharks that strand around the UK coastline.   As well as documenting each individual stranding, they also retrieve a proportion for investigation at post-mortem to allow them to establish a cause of death.  Strandings that undergo post-mortem examination provide valuable information on causes of death, disease, contaminants, reproductive patterns, diet and also useful pointers to the general health of the populations living in the seas around our coasts.  This provides useful baseline data to help detect outbreaks of disease or unusual increases in mortality. The CSIP depends on the publics help in the reporting of strandings around the UK.

More information about the CSIP and what to do if you find a stranded animal can be found on their website or by reading their strandings leaflet which they have kindly let us share CSIP_leaflet

Behind the scenes at the Quarry

A few weeks ago we made one of our annual visits to Birkhams Quarry, just outside Whitehaven.

As part of their planning permission the quarry operator is required to restore areas of the quarry once they have finished being worked for stone.

At the end of 2016 topsoil from elsewhere on site was spread over the first area of restoration.  The decision was made not to use plug plants or seed the restoration area but to let it vegetate naturally using the seeds already in the topsoil.

This summer we’ve worked at the site with local volunteers doing a variety of jobs recording the species we find on site and beginning to remove plants such as bracken, nettle, dock and thistle.  If left unchecked these could become dominant and shade out the wildflowers and grasses we want to encourage. The restoration area is developing nicely and the variety of species that have already established is encouraging.

On our last visit in June 2018 we found:

Agrimony

Birds foot trefoil

Bluebell sp

Bracken

Bramble

Broad leaved dock

Burdock

Bush vetch

Catsear

Cocks foot

Common nettle

Common sorrel

Creeping thistle

Creeping buttercup

Devils bit scabious

Foxglove

Germander speedwell

Gorse

Herb Robert

Hogweed

Hop trefoil

Lesser celandine

Meadow foxtail

Ragwort

Ribwort plantain

Sheep sorrel

Silverweed

Spear thistle

Speedwell sp

Tormentil

White clover

Wood vetch

Willowherb sp

 

Work and walk – a chance to see behind the scenes at Birkhams Quarry!

Join us for this unique opportunity to carry out some practical conservation work in a working quarry. We will walk from the old Haig Mining Museum, passing signs of Whitehaven’s mining past up to Birkhams Quarry where we will get a chance get a behind the scenes view of this sandstone quarry. When we’re there well spend a short time carrying out some conservation work on an area of restored wildflower grassland and record what species we find. For more information or to let us know you’re coming along email sophie.badrick@nationaltrust.org.uk

 

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 Sophie.badrick@nationaltrust.org.uk or phone 07342088015

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.

cof

cof

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!

cof

cof

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Snails of the sea

Last week we spent some time on the shore in Whitehaven and came across some empty Flat Periwinkle shells (or littorina obtusata to give them their full Latin name).  These small marine molluscs are widespread and common along the UK coast and can usually found on rocky shores amongst the brown seaweeds.  They grow to about 1.5 centimetres and can occur with orange, yellow, brown, grey or even chequered shells.

A little way further along the shore we found an occupied shell with a periwinkle exploring its surroundings.  Check out the video on our instagram page.

When you’re next on the shore why not stop your stroll and take a while to look closer at the amazing creatures you can see?

Handfuls of rubbish – beach cleaning with Surfers Against Sewage

 

On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October we joined the Surfers Against Sewage team for the Autumn Beach Clean Series to collect litter and washed up rubbish at  Whitehaven’s North Shore and St Bees Beach.

The weather was kind on both days and over 30 volunteers gave up their weekend afternoons to come along and join in.  As always the amount of plastic pollution was astounding.  We spent two hours at each beach and there were so many cotton bud sticks, strings from balloon releases, straws, single use plastic bottles and sanitary applicators that we gave up counting and just kept on collecting.  In St Bees alone we collected and removed 22 bags of litter.  Fast food packaging, wet wipes, cutlery and rope were also, unfortunately, in abundance high up on the tide line having been washed up during recent storms.

Much of this waste could be avoided with a little bit of though or planning.  Some simple (and easy) tips are:

  • Take a reusable cup to the coffee shop
  • Recycle cans and bottles – don’t chuck them on the ground or in the bin
  • Most importantly remember that only the three P’s should go down the toilet – pee, poo and paper!
cof

cof