Category Archives: Wildlife

Super-tide in the Cornish rock pools – Porth Mear

Occasionally you find something in the rock pools that makes you want to shout it from the cliff tops. This is one of those moments. I was hoping for some interesting finds at this spectacular rocky cove, but this little overhang is hiding something magical – a large colony of Scarlet and gold star corals.

Scarlet and gold star corals under the overhang
Scarlet and gold star corals under the overhang

It’s the first time I’ve seen this species at Porth Mear and it’s not easy. Waves are crashing through a deep channel to my left and splashing up my leg and I’m standing in boot-depth water, trying to Continue reading Super-tide in the Cornish rock pools – Porth Mear

Super-tide in the Cornish Rock Pools – Hannafore

I am a lucky woman. Not only is my other-half proud to be seen in public with me when I’m wearing my oh-so-flattering waders, but he’s even prepared to spend his birthday on the shore.

He says he understands; tides like this don’t come up every day. In fact, watching him lifting stones and kneeling to take photos, I start to suspect he’s becoming as obsessed as I am.

I love my waders! Exploring the Cornish rock pools.
I love my waders!

The tide is already out so far that Continue reading Super-tide in the Cornish Rock Pools – Hannafore

Practice Run – Rockpooling just before the big tides

This weekend will be a rockpool marathon. I’ll be out in my splendidly flattering waders crawling among kelp and tearing my fingers apart on barnacles and keel worms, making the most of the exceptional spring tides.

In preparation I take a leisurely pootle to my local beach, Plaidy. High pressure and calm seas mean this is already a great tide – it will drop another half-metre by Saturday.

Baby sand eel
Baby sand eel

Cornish Rockpools junior is digging sea defences, rescuing the baby Continue reading Practice Run – Rockpooling just before the big tides

An outdoor education – B is for…

We’re playing a board game with Cornish Rock Pools junior when he picks a question card: Name three animals beginning with B. He starts to reel off his answers – ‘Bear, bird…’, then hesitates. His dad makes buzzing noises and flaps his arms, but, like most children, our son wants to come up with his own answer.

I’m reminded of the alphabet charts with a picture for each letter, you know the ones. The chart in my childhood classroom had some familiar animals, but also lots of exotic creatures that we were unlikely to see roaming the Cornish lanes (elephant, hippo, zebra, etc).  I’m not sure my son has ever seen Continue reading An outdoor education – B is for…

Spring in the Cornish Rock Pools

Spring is a wonderful time of year in the Cornish rock pools, although like all things British, it’s hard to predict when it will arrive.

 This time of year, the fish are moving inshore to lay their eggs. In many common shore species, the male stays close by, protecting the eggs until the baby fish hatch. Blennies, in particular, are frequently found hiding among the rocks, close to their precious broods.

A tompot blenny (male) guards his eggs
A tompot blenny (male) guards his eggs
Fish eggs under a rock. Inside, lots of tiny eyes look back at me.
Fish eggs under a rock. Inside, lots of tiny eyes look back at me.

Many crabs too are ‘in berry’, tucking their clutches of eggs Continue reading Spring in the Cornish Rock Pools

Chilly but Fabulous – February Rockpools

I’m not cut out for rockpooling in a northerly wind in February. My hands are too frozen to hold my battered old camera steady, but nothing is going to make me miss this tide. It’s so low that the seagrass at Hannafore is high and dry and a shark is lurking in shin-deep water, but I haven’t seen that yet.

A male Xantho incisus crab
A male Xantho incisus crab
A beautiful dahlia anemone (Urticina felina).
A beautiful dahlia anemone (Urticina felina).

There are fish, crabs, worms and brittle stars in droves Continue reading Chilly but Fabulous – February Rockpools

A Shark in the Rockpools: Hannafore, Cornwall

Fish often become trapped in the shallows during exceptionally low tides, even big fish like mullet and wrasse, but it’s the first time I’ve met an adult shark on a rockpooling trip.

It’s been a cold but productive afternoon and I’m about to head home to defrost my painfully frozen fingers when a movement in the kelp around ten metres away grabs my attention. Continue reading A Shark in the Rockpools: Hannafore, Cornwall

Love on the Rocks at Mawgan Porth

I love this rock; no frame could suit it better than Mawgan Porth’s sheer cliffs, golden sand and wide horizon. Perhaps I need emotional counselling, but it really is a beauty. Its seaward side lifts its face to the churning Atlantic, defying the waves that batter and submerge it for most of the year. Only a few mussels and barnacles cling on to its western edge, oblivious to the storms and sunsets I have watched from here since childhood. Continue reading Love on the Rocks at Mawgan Porth

The Zen Guide to Rockpooling

  • Pick a quiet day of the week
  • At a quiet time of year
  • On a day with quiet weather
  • Go slowly and quietly
  • Stop. Watch. Let time go

February is a wonderful month for rock pooling in Cornwall. Well, we think so, although we consider a packet of chocolate biscuits a pre-requisite for achieving anything, especially enlightenment, so Continue reading The Zen Guide to Rockpooling

A Winter Walk

Standing on the beach it’s hard to imagine how anything survives in our seas at this time of year. Fierce Atlantic winds send the waves surging high onto the shore, exploding against the rocks and blowing hair or sand into my eyes whichever way I turn. Yet on these dark winter days, when many of our land animals have migrated or gone into hibernation, most marine life is clinging on and waiting for spring.

Wintertime is tough even for the hardiest mariners. The strandline is strewn with those that haven’t made it Continue reading A Winter Walk