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Trip to Burniston 18th July 1999

On what turned out to be a fascinating trip it is sad to report that only three people were present. This was a marvellous opportunity for members to learn more about our coastal environment from two very knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. What a pity that they failed to turn up. 16 bird species were recorded, and many plants, seaweeds and rock pool fauna seen.

Pre lunch was taken up with the geology of the east coast region and the possibility of finding trace fossils. We were shown a plaster cast of a dinosaur foot print and several possible prints on the shore. A fossil Equisetum was displayed with a diameter of 7mm from about 200 million years ago. The species still survives in the area but with a much smaller diameter.

The local Jurassic sandstone and shales were pointed out and several erratics found amongst the pebbles on the upper shore. Some rocks contained the outlines of wood fossils and some had a menagerie of small shell fossils due to Bioturbidation. Examples were found of Shap granite, lava, and rocks from the west coast of Scotland and as far away as Scandinavia; these having been transported by the ice during the ice-age and deposited in the boulder clay that overlies the sandstone. Erosion exposes these rocks and deposits them along the shore. The area was once part of a large delta and evidence has been found that it had undergone three submergences by the sea and became exposed again before finally being submerged permanently.

After lunch we walked along the mid-shore looking in pools and under rocks and seaweed for the animals that lived in what is a very hostile zone. The rock dwellers, Limpets, Barnacles, Winkles (both edible and flat) and Dog Whelks predominated with smaller numbers of Top Shell and several Coat-of-Mail-Shells. The shore was covered mostly by Bladder Wrack with Serrated Wrack further down towards the sea. Laminaria digitata was also found. It was a good year for Sea Grass and the other two green seaweeds Sea Lettuce and Cladophora rupestris. Other seaweeds included Corallina officinalis, Sea Oak, Oar Weed, Ceramium rubrum, and Gigartina stellata.

Under the rocks were tubes of Keel Worm and in the pools and amongst the seaweed were Shore, Edible and Hermit crabs. Beadlet Anemone were reasonably common. There were also several species of Sand Hoppers.

The following birds were seen: Oystercatcher, Redshank, Sandwich Tern, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Wren, Linnet, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Swift, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Yellowhammer, Skylark and Carrion Crow.

There were many plants especially varieties of Vetch but without a botanist it was not possible to identify most. However on the wet parts of the exposed boulder clay there were plenty of Common Butterwort.

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© Ryedale Natural History Society 1999
Page last modified 21st July 1999