Wildlife & Marine

Wildlife - February

Bottle-nosed Dolphins are often seen from the clifftop path at this time of year please let the Rangers know of any sightings.

Guillemots and Razorbills (of which only a few remain in winter plumage) have started to return to the breeding ledges, while Fulmars are soaring the cliffs. The Shag, an early breeder, carries twigs and seaweed for nest building.

Further out at sea, Gannets, Scoter, Brent Geese and divers may pass in good numbers, especially during Easterly winds.

Look out for a Peregrine Falcon disturbing the resident Feral Pigeon population. On Tilly Whim ledges an over-wintering Black Redstart may be seen.

A warm day may bring out a Brimstone or Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, or an Adder.

Flocks of small birds foraging through the woods may include: Blue, Great, Marsh and Coal Tits, Treecreepers, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. These are beginning to sing as the breeding season approaches.

Many of the woodland trees provide support for the Ivy, now heavy with berries, a very important food source at this time of year. The bright blue, white and pink colour of the Jay catches the eye, as may a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. At night the hooting of a Tawny Owl is an often present sound.

The sheltered glades provide the earliest flowers, with Primrose, Snowdrop and Daffodils emerging. In the leaf litter, Hairy Steruem and Chanterelle fungi can be found, while rotting branches support Coral Spot, Jews Ear, Coriolus versicolor and Bracket fungi.

The wispy white heads of the Old Man's Beard give a wintry feel, even on the warm days, which have encouraged the Lesser Bloody Nosed Beetle and Buff-tailed Bumble Bees to emerge.

But spring is in the offing; Greenfinches, Bullfinches and Redwing flit amongst the Gorse and Elder bushes in the upper gully.

The melodious Song Thrush, Dunnock and Robin, joined by the quick-quick-slow of a Chaffinch, are some of the sounds of early birdsong from amongst the Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Hazel hedgerows.

Late in the month flowers of Primrose and Daffodils provide a splash of yellow while Whitlow Grass has a more delicate white head in the short turf. Leaves beginning to emerge from the ground are the bright green, sometimes spotted, leaf of the Lords & Ladies or 'Cuckoo Pint'.

A sharp eye may see a bounding Weasel or footprints showing the night-time activity of Roe Deer.

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ZoomClick images for larger versions:
Bottlenose Dolphins and Calf
Bottlenose dolphins. Photo: Lucy Wheeldon

Fulmars
Fulmars. Photo: A. F. Biskup

Primroses
Primroses. Photo: Dom Greves

Daffodils
Daffodils. Photo: Dom Greves