25 April, 2016

On Crystal Beach

Devon has many landscapes, and what may be argued the prettiest and certainly the oldest lies at its southern extremity.

I'm about to go on about rocks for a bit. You may wish to skip down a way...

When looking at a topographic map of Devon, you may notice that the general theme of rolling hills does not quite carry everywhere. At the bottom, there's an invisible line, south of which the hills are more a high flat plateau. The sea cliffs change from sheets of sheer slate in various ruddy hues to hog's backs looming over jagged reefs and islets, the clifftops studded with sharp outcrops and coloured in sparkling swirls of metallic green and blue.
These are old rocks, twisted and melded like molasses by the immense forces of tectonism. Formed under an ancient ocean, buried, altered, then thrust up as continents collided.. It's almost romantic, isn't it?

One of the consequences of this geology is the nature of the beach sediments. Basalt volcanoes give black lava sand, sedimentless atolls [and hard granites] have white sand made from shells, rivers draining china clay workings give beaches of silver sand; the schists of the south give beaches of crystal. Fragile chlorite and tiny hornblende pretty much disappear, leaving pebbles of the veined quartz to make up the beaches. Quartz is a variable mineral, taking in all manner of elements into its basic SiO2 lattice and giving a rainbow of colours; white as snow, yellow as citrine, purple as amethyst, pink as rose, and so on..

And so it was on Sunday that when I found myself having lunch with the Folks [yes, and that LBD as well] in a little cove 'tween Prawle and Start, that the scenery was something special.

What a little beauty

And a bigger beauty. 
Gotta love an intrusion.

Amethyst underfoot

Oh, wait, you want the other scenery....

Only the sky came out right, alas

How about the gems in the rock pools?

An enome

Ok, enough fun. On to the reportage;

The sun shone, the wind was cold but not strong and out of it things were positively balmy... and there were even a few birds! First Spot Fly of the year, a near heart attack inducing grey Willow Warbler, some very confiding freshly in/off Wheatears, lots of lovely Whitethroats, a party of 3 fishing Sarnies, and lots of little stripey buntings what you're not supposed to talk about even though the entire world knows they're there.

Also a scattering of Whimbrel along the shore [when not attacked by the Oyks], 4 Grey Seals at Peartree, and several groups of I think more hopeful than successful birders [though one did get a Redstart].

We had a very nice day.

Either side of that, I'd failed and then succeeded in finding Whitethroats at the Nose, with bonuses of a mimic-happy Sedge Warbler on Saturday and both Garden and a very bright Willow Warbler today. Wheatears continue to move through, along with the odd hirundine, but apart from Chiffs and Blackcaps, there haven't been hordes of migrants when I've been there. [Yes, I should be there more often.]

Be Seeing You..

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