The Team Go Mad in Dorset (with added Snails)

On Friday the south/central team had an away day in Dorset, we went to Purbeck, starting at Kimmeridge Bay where rock pooling was out of the question as the tide was in. despite the low cloud and rather cool conditions some of our party went into the sea to do a little snorkelling. Some were better prepared than others and some of us did not go in at all!

life's a beach

life’s a beach

I stayed onshore and hunted the higher shore for things of interest, some of the rocks had patterns caused by grazing molluscs rasping off the algae, I think these were caused by periwinkle.

feeding marks on rocks at Kimmeridge

feeding marks on rocks at Kimmeridge

Around the rocks there were lots of woodlice and bristle-tails, this one is Petrobius maritimus, they are primitive insects without wings.

bristletail (Petrobius maritimus)

bristletail (Petrobius maritimus)

On the higher shore the damp conditions had brought out lots of snails, this yellow form of Cepaea hortensis caught my eye on the dark rocks.

Cepaea hortensis

Cepaea hortensis

We had a look around the Dorset Wildlife Trust centre with artificial rock pools and displays to see what we might have found it the tide had been out. We then headed off to Durlston Country Park, to see the limestone grassland, cliffs and refurbished castle and displays. The sun even tried to come out as we arrived and so did a few insects.

dark bush-cricket

dark bush-cricket

Eventually it started to warm up and there were glimpses of sunshine which brought out some butterflies.

common blue female

common blue female

I was particularly looking for Lulworth skipper as I had never seen one, they only occur in a small area of south Dorset flying mostly in August and I had never visited at the right time before. I was in luck and we saw a dozen or so in the end.

Lulworth skipper

Lulworth skipper

It was rather a day for snails and walking along the cliff path I found this Pomatias elegans, a snail that looks like it belongs in the sea, even having an operculum, which you can just see to the rear of the shell. I also liked the rather elephant-like “snout”.

Pomatias elegans

Pomatias elegans

It also looks as if it is contemplating leaping off, surely it is all but past the point of no return here.

The displays in the new centre were also very impressive, the wall of wildlife pictures was good and clearly  a lot of effort, and money, had gone into the project.

As often happens, as we pulled away to head for home the sun finally came out strongly.

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