Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eype of the Tiger

I've just returned from a great two-week family holiday to the west Dorset coast. Staying just inland from Charmouth, we had easy access to lots of great coastal sites. Fossil hunting and rock pooling were frequent events and the later turned up lots of goodies (for me at least!).

This bit of the coast is under constant erosion and there are frequent cliff collapses and land slides. This has lead to a very dynamic environment with patches of bare ground, pioneer vegetation and more established stuff. This is also riddled with gullies for water run off and seepages from underground springs.  

This is a fairly unusual environment in the UK and supports several rare and range-restricted species. My first taste of the Dorset undercliff (as it is known) came at Eype Mouth (rhymes with cheap!) on our first afternoon.

My main target was Cliff Tiger-beetle Cylindera germanica and these were quickly found scurrying around over patches of bare earth in between some of the pioneer vegetation. They didn't half move but I eventually pinned one or two down for a closer look. Smaller than the Dune Tiger-beetles seen recently at Holme, Norfolk, but still as feisty and ready to give a nip.

Now, I'm next to useless on plants, but a recent tip off by Steve Gale on his great blog alerted me to the presence of a real botanical rarity at this site. Slender Centaury is known from only two sites in Dorset and one of them is Eype Mouth. Having brushed up on what it looks like I found 50+ plants just to the west of the mouth. Similar to Lesser Centaury it is currently considered a full species.

I only had a couple of hours here before the kids wanted to move off in search of ice cream, but I could have easily spent several more hours working the cliffs and seeps for more rare beetles.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you found your targets Martin. My attempts to photograph the beetle failed miserably!