The seashore is one of the most diverse and interesting habitats that a naturalist will encounter and if time and patience are given, a whole array of marvellous life-forms can be revealed. Primarily the main habitats of a coastal area are as thus:-
An excellent diversity of creatures can be found on almost any rocky shore with a good rock-pooling session a real eye-opener. Seaweeds are obvious and beneath these marine plants many small animals may be found with crustaceans, molluscs, starfish and anemones usually abundant. Fish such as gobies can be numerous in rockpools but patience is required to get the best views.
SAND AND SHINGLE
A very hostile habitat due to its unstable and erosive nature although the few species that can be found here are quite unique and are worth the effort. Nesting plovers, yellow-horned poppy and sea-kale are possibilities and various molluscs may be uncovered with a little digging.
The main attractions of a good coastal cliff area are the nesting birds and varied plant life. Late spring is the optimum time with thrift, sea campion, scurvy grass and kidney vetch all on show to a background chorus of breeding ornithological delights. The underlying rock is the key to what botanical species will be present with acid eventually producing heathland and lime encouraging orchids to bloom in abundance.
Excellent wildlife areas with usually an abundance of species on show. Botanical life can be quite varied with the dominant marram and lime grasses excellent in aiding dune stabilisation. On established dune systems insect life will flourish and with slacks, shrubby areas and such almost anything can be turned up. The hillocks are susceptible to damage through over trampling where blow-outs can easily be caused due to irresponsible behaviour.
The silt deposited by rivers at their sea mouths form the extensive saltmarshes we are all familiar with. The highly specialised plant and animal life found on a good saltmarsh can result in a very rewarding experience. The plants are tough and succulent due to the fact of a twice a day immersion in salty water which is broken by exposure to sub-zero conditions or baking hot sunshine. Due to these harsh climactic conditions animals are less abundant.
Almost everyone who pays a visit to a beach has at some time had a rummage among the strandline debris. A whole host of hidden gems may be discovered with shells, sponges, seaweeds, egg cases and other maritime delights. Occasionally after a good storm at sea a bumper bonanza of the seas hidden life is exposed with starfish, crabs and even the odd sharks tooth waiting to be discovered. A good source of food and shelter for many invertebrates especially the ubiquitous sandhopper. Gulls often congregate here scavenging on anything worthwhile.