The edge of Cumbria

St Bees Head tooking north towards Whitehaven (c) Duncan Hutt

St Bees Head tooking north towards Whitehaven (c) Duncan Hutt

St Bees Head nesting seabirds (c) Duncan Hutt

St Bees Head nesting seabirds (c) Duncan Hutt

St Bees Head’s wonderful red sandstone cliffs form an impressive vantage point over the Irish Sea.  They are well known for their bird colonies, in particular the guillemots and razorbills that nest on the cliff ledges.  The numbers of these seemed to be markedly lower than on my last visit, probably over ten years ago.  Kittiwakes and fulmars too seemed to be there in lower numbers and the noise and smell, in particular, was less than in the past though accepting that many young have yet to hatch.  Elsewhere around the Head were skylark, yellowhammer and whitethroat singing and a small group of linnets that kept passing by.

Cliff top bluebells (c) Duncan Hutt

Cliff top bluebells (c) Duncan Hutt

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) (c) Duncan Hutt

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) (c) Duncan Hutt

In contrast the wild flowers seemed to be in even greater abundance than previously; the cliff top bluebells particularly striking to the north part of the Head and the thrift further south.  In amongst these carpets of blues or pinks were plants such as the common vetch, buck’s-horn plantain and sea campion.

At last there are a few butterflies around although most of them were whites.  However, one rather ragged peacock was also to be seen, an overwintering survivor that has had to wait rather a long time for some warm spring weather to arrive.

Peacock butterfly (c) Duncan Hutt

Winter worn peacock butterfly (c) Duncan Hutt



About thehutts

The Hutt Family from Northumberland
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5 Responses to The edge of Cumbria

  1. viv blake says:

    The decline in numbers is very sad, though I wonder if it is just part of a cycle? Those bluebells on an open coastal site are surely unusual – I thought they liked dappled shade. That’s certainly where they are successful here.

  2. thehutts says:

    The bluebells, woodrush, and other more woodland type plants are supposed to indicate that this once had a woodland cover, as is still common on cliffs in some of the remoter parts of Scotland. Why nothing survives of this woodland even on the most precipitous slopes is however a bit odd and as it’s no longer grazed it might be expected to start to reappear which doesn’t seem to be the case. .

  3. Rachael says:

    Nice post. It is too easy to forget Cumbria’s coast, overshadowed by its more famous mountains and lakes.

  4. Everything seems to be declining, doesn’t it?

  5. restlessjo says:

    Beautiful capture of the butterfly. I’ve never been to St. Bee’s so must get up that way this Summer. 🙂

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