Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spring at Speeton Sands

North of the chalk cliffs of the Flamborough headland lays Filey Bay, an arc of golden sands backed by clay cliffs. Reighton and Speeton sands make the southern end of this bay. At low tide the beach is very wide and the views impressive, with the backdrop of the cliffs on one side and Filey bay in the distance. Other than the usual beach entertainment, there are other things to explore: the eroding cliffs are covered on scrub and wildflowers, and the clay they are made of is the only site in the U.K. with a marine lower Cretaceous exposure. Walking along the bottom of the cliffs it is relatively easy to collect fossil Belemnites, Ammonites and bivalve shells. There is no need of equipment as the clay is quite soft. Occasionally the tides uncover fresh clay under the sand, and then it is a good opportunity for good finds. Every visit will be different because of the speed of erosion.
 A walk on the hillside illustrates how quickly plants and animals colonise the mudlides. Little primroses, coltsfoot and violets were growing on clay that evidently had settled not long ago.
 Today we spot the first swallows of the year flying south and the first Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers sing from the blackthorn and gorse.
The view from the car park near the Reighton Sands holiday park
Colts Foot
Flowering gorse
A belemnite stuck to the clay
A view towards Bempton cliffs
Tiger Beetle, Cicindela campestris, fighting with an ant
These wellington boots left behind stuck to the mud serve as a warning to visitors. There are frequent mudslides and flows and the mud can be caked outside, but soft and sticky inside.
View of the fossil-bearing Cretaceous clay
UK fossils. Informative site with site and fossil photos and indications of how to access the area.

Location map
Access through the village of Speeton is not recommended due to recent mudslides. Go to Reighton Sands Holiday Village from Reighton leaving the entrance to your right. There is a car park and a relatively safe way down to the beach.

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Millington Wood in April

We make a trip to Millington Wood, a botanical gem nestled in a dry vale - Lily Vale - near Pocklington. It was originally an ash wood, but in the 60s it was replanted commercially with spruce and beech and only small pockets of the original woodland remain. It was made a nature reserve in 1991 by the East Riding of Yorkshire, and it is managed so that the replanted species are felled and the wood converted into charcoal in a kiln in the reserve (below) itself, to encourage the native calcareous ash woodland.
Today we spot early woodland flowers, many Lesser Celandines and Wood Anemones, a few Primroses and a small pocket of Dog Violets. Fresh, pungent Ramsons leaves carpeted vast sways of the wood and the flower buds of bluebells had started to appear amongst the leaves.
 Wood Anemones
Dog Violet with Bombus pascuorum
A hillside at the top of the reserve covered on Ramsons or wild garlic
 As for fauna, we came across a carcass of a crow which some carrion beetles are feeding on, they run and dig for cover but we manage some shots. We spot a Peacock and a Brimstone, and several bumblebees and many ladybirds.
 The carrion beetle Oiceoptoma thoracica
Seven spots and an orange ladybird hibernating
There is a good path for most of the way, which becomes steep and narrow with steps to reach the top of the valley and then you can return in a circular walk on a higher path, a bit rougher and with more steps. Overall, a mile walk.
To top today's trip we see a Red Kite flying over Market Weighton and a hare in a field nearby.

Location map:

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