The further you walk along Weymouth pier the deeper and bluer the water – turquoise tinted. In the shallows, the sand on the sea bed makes the water appear more yellow. On this calm day, the water surface was riffled by the wind to produce patterned textures where the transient ridges were delineated by the light they caught.
The weather was very changeable but it was still a lovely spring afternoon for a walk up the hill to the barn. It is a good viewpoint up on Charlton Down, looking over the gentle rolling hills of arable farmland. I haven’t been along that path for some time and it was amazing to see the difference in the surrounding fields. The young oil-seed rape plants that I had seen as raindrop-covered seedlings last December were now hip-high and covered in clusters of faintly scented yellow flowers. The grey skies broke with the brisk breeze and clouds scudded across the blue sky, making fast-moving shadows over the rural scene. The agricultural machinery parked by the barn remain a constant while everything around changes by the moment, with the weather, and through the seasons.
These images are a study of patterns and surface texture on the shallow water over the sandy seabed at Weymouth, viewed from the promenade leading to the pier. I like the way that the waves look as if they are drawn with fine lines onto the sea with a white pencil. The clear water reveals the yellow of the sand below the waves. (If you wish, you can click on the photographs to enlarge them and see the details).
The most common fossils at Seatown on the Dorset coast are belemnites. These are bullet-shaped internal hard parts of a type of extinct cephalopod (think cuttlefish, squid and octopus). For a great deal of the length of the beach, the rock strata are hidden by debris falling down from layers above. There are lots of minor mudslides and landslips. However, as you get nearer to the western extremity of the beach, approaching Golden Cap, a continuous kerb-like, harder, and more calcareous stone layer makes an appearance. This is the Belemnite Stone that has been raised to view by a small anticlinal flexure. Below it are many layers of Belemnite Marl that can be seen in cross-section in the vertical face at the base of the cliff; and also extending out horizontally beneath the gravelly beach and exposed at low tide. They alternate light and dark layers. Fossils are abundant with belemnites predominating but ammonites are also common. The huge numbers of belemnites are thought to have resulted from mass die-offs following mating frenzies.
Everything looks different on a country walk seen in late evening light. Budding horse chestnut trees with fast-opening sticky buds and crumpled new leaves are silhouetted against the clear moonlit sky. White blackthorn blossoms in the hedgerows and rows of cut maize stubble reflect the last rays of the sun. Blue-green shoots of spring wheat can still be made out in the fields as the sun disappears; and trees by the stream retain a faint glow when the sun finally goes down. In the quiet of the dusk, the burbling of the river mingles with birdsong and the dark surface water riffles and eddies over beds of water crowfoot as it makes its way downstream.
It was a fine evening when I went for a stroll around half past seven. The sun was about to go down and casting the last low bright rays. Most of the beech trees have their leaves still tightly wrapped up but one tree stood out ahead of the game. Gentle light shone through the fresh leaves in a lovely yellow mosaic against the sky.
A small sand-covered Pennant’s Swimming Crab, about 2 cm across, emerging from its burrow in the wet sediments at low tide on Rhossili Beach one June.
For more details of this little seashore creature, Latin name Portumnus latipes (Pennant), see the earlier post.