Friday, 3 September 2010

The most diffcult patch in England?

I recently spent some time on the Dorset coast at Charmouth. As is my want, I wandered the coastal paths close by to try and winkle out those natural history gems. This whole area is part of the 'Jurassic Coast' and the cliffs here are very unstable. The picture above was taken east of Charmouth looking down from the clifftop into an area of slippage that has since stabilised and allowed woodland to establish. Beyond the woods is another cliff that drops straight into the sea. The picture below illustrates the site perfectly (thankyou Google Earth).

Whilst I stared into this green abyss, I wondered how on earth you could successfully bird it. There must be plenty of migrants that have come over from France and dropped in. Some of them must be rare! How many Golden Os, Melodious Warblers and Bee-eaters enliven a late spring day? And what about those rare autumn phylloscs? But, you cannot approach the wood from the top (crumbling descent, wickedly steep incline, deeply rutted) or from the beach (covered at high tide, crumbling ascent, wet unstable slacks). The wood itself looked impenetrable even if you got there. Maybe this is why, when I looked through the 'Birds of Dorset' there is scarcely a mention of any notable ornithological records from the area. But on a still, sunny August afternoon, watching a lone Willow Warbler flicking through the treetops, anything seemed possible.

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