Tuesday 1 June 2021

Berry Head

A glorious morning, spent with Mike Langman, on the limestone environs of Berry Head. Mike's knowledge of the headland's flora and fauna is second to none, so it was a real privilege to be shown so much of it in perfect, late spring conditions. I'd forgotten just how beautiful a place Berry Head is, but I suppose I used to visit  mostly in autumn, with my mind set solely on birds. How times have changed! 

Mike runs guided tours of the headland for Naturetrek which, given this morning's experience (and throw in all the seabirds, dolphins, porpoises and reptiles) must be absolutely superb! Many thanks Mike.

The famous White Rock Rose was growing in abundance. They're absolutely gorgeous.

Mike and I saw masses of Small Blues. They weren't counted but I'd guess we saw 30-40 individuals. Some, like the above, were absolutely pristine. It has been a good few years since I last saw this species.

This was a particularly tiny individual. One of a number seen in the quarry.

Honewort was another new species for me, and a real Berry Head speciality.

Horseshoe Vetch

Fulmars. It was generally quiet for birds this morning, but we did see good numbers of Guillemot, a few Razorbills and a couple Cirl Buntings. A couple of Cetti's Warblers, that have apparently been in residence for a while, sang as I made my way back to the car.

Carrot Broomrape - in the quarry. Seeing so many of these flowers was a real highlight for me. Each and every one was nowhere near any Ivy, but close to Wild Carrot.

There's an abundance of Yellow Rattle on Berry Head.

Wild Thyme is largely yet to flower but it won't be long...

We saw several Wall Browns, masses of Small Blues and a number of Common Blues, but other species were notable by their absence - presumably a consequence of a poor early spring?

Dropwort - a beautiful species that I was very keen to see.

An Eyebright species. Any thoughts on id would be hugely appreciated.

Common Gromwell.

A grass species.

Greater Knapweed.

Bee Orchid. A small number found (by Mike eagle-eyed not me) and a surprising number of Early Purple Orchids still in flower too.

Viper's Bugloss. There are some impressive stands of this at Berry Head.

Wall Rue.

Hairy Rock-cress - another new one for me - a distinctive, thin, upright plant.

Small Restharrow (and below) - one of this morning's targets and another Berry Head special.

A photo taken in shadow to avoid being perilously close to the cliff-edge!

Goat's-beard - also known as 'Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon' thanks to its habit of 'shutting up shop' (see below) around midday. I've not seen this before, but saw it again on the way home - on Sandygate roundabout, as I was stopped at traffic lights.

Mouse-ear Hawkweed. And below.

Ivy Broomrape.


  1. Looks like you an amazing time, Matt. Many years since I visited- I did find the White Rock-rose but not the Honewort.

    Sadly we don't get Walls here anymore but hope to see some Small Blues later this week the other side of London near Croydon, where this is also a thriving introduced population of Glanville Fritillaries.

  2. Hi Neil - the Honewort is abundant (as is the Rock-rose) in places if you're ever back down this way...
    I was bowled over by the Small Blues - they were everywhere, and all from a tiny introduced population. Glanville Fritillaries would be very welcome! All the best. Matt

  3. Really great to spend some time with you Matt - you found and helped me identify several new (and often difficult to even see!)species - so a big thanks for that. I could get hooked by the botany but I'm always aware that while I'm looking down I'm going to miss birds going over!

  4. Likewise Mike - I think it's fair to say that you helped me a lot more than I helped you! Being taken straight to the rarities will have saved me hours and hours! Hope to pop down again soon for the Small Hare's-ear. All the best. Matt