On the eastern flank of the great pebble bank of Chesil Beach in Dorset, on that part adjacent to the Fleet Lagoon where fishermen’s huts are strewn along the water’s edge, the pebbles were sufficiently undisturbed in the spring of 2011 for vegetation to get a grip. A few scattered plants had established themselves amongst the rounded stones; and many pebbles in the same area were coated with slow-growing black or bright orange lichens.
This type of colonisation of beach shingle is a fairly uncommon phenomenon because, in general, the constant movement and abrasion of the pebbles does not allow plants to establish a root system or lichens to encrust the surface of the pebbles themselves. However, in this particular location on the leeward sheltered side of the pebble bank, there had been a period of years of relative stability that enabled vegetation to start growing.
During the winter of 2013 to 2014 the Chesil Bank sustained enormous damage from the storms. The wave action resulted in massive movements of the pebbles. I haven’t revisited the site since the storms but I strongly suspect that the plants and lichens will have suffered and may no longer exist. I must go and check it out. Whatever the outcome of last winter’s weather and subsequent maintenance work on the pebble bank, the slow colonisation process will surely begin again but will take time to restore the habitat to its former situation.
This short video clip shows two streams of water gushing from the base of the large multi-tiered shingle bank that blocks the valley at Pwll Du Bay in Gower, South Wales. The water comes from the Bishopston Pill river that flows down the valley to the shore, but which has been dammed up behind the shingle. In summer, reduced water flow means that just a trickle seeps out of the shingle base and spreads across the shore. This video was taken in October after heavy rain had increased the quantity of water in the river and subsequently the pressure of the small lake behind the pebble bank. There is a fast and steady flow and the two streams have begun to create channels through the pebbles before converging on the beach. Apparently, in winter, the build-up of water pressure behind the bank means that the river cuts its way straight through to the sea.
This is the second in a series of photographs of rocks at Clogher Bay on the Dingle Peninsula in the West Coast of Ireland, and they belong to the Dunquin Group from the Silurian Period. Clogher Bay is just south along the coast from Ferriters Cove which has featured in earlier postings.