Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Real Marine Life

Fall Bay is small and sheltered; it requires a good walk along hedgerows and over styles from Middleton to get to the beach. It’s never busy, only those seeking peace come here. It’s mid-morning, and there’s just one couple settling in by the rocks for a day’s sunbathing; there will be more visitors, but in mid-week probably just a handful.

In midsummer, sea breezes often churn up the water offshore, but in sheltered bays like this, the sea can be more or less flat calm. The glass-like sea produces tiny wavelets along the shore, and there’s just a gentle lapping, as the water, almost silent, seems to caress the pristine sand.

As the tide ebbs, the bay expands, and I need to wait to get round the base of Lewes Castle into Mewslade Bay.  The wet sand, looking like a sheet of glass, is untouched by footprints, but will soon be spoiled by the footprints of surfers, which I’m sure will be out of luck today.

Above, the mighty rock that is Lewes Castle dominates both bays. Any herring gulls that may have nested are long gone, but fulmars, which still have young in the nest, glide effortlessly around the top of the cliff. Swifts nest in natural holes here, one of the few known places in the UK, but they too are gone, no doubt well on their way to some unknown African winter destination.

The west-facing wall of Thurba Head always holds a colourful collection of dog whelks. Ranging from white, through grey to green, and even bright yellow, they cling to the vertical rocks amongst barnacles, limpets and periwinkles, waiting for the next high tide. Here is real marine life, which seems to go mostly unnoticed by the visitors to the beach. Many are out of reach, beyond head high, reflecting the rise and fall of the tide in this bay, and will have to wait many hours before the sea allows them to venture away from their fixed positions.  

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