Family nature trail
Family Nature Trail
Seafield and Doonfoot
The area of low sand dunes between the promenade and the beach is full of interesting wildlife including birds, insects, snails, mosses and fungi, as well as over 100 kinds of flowering plants. What you find depends on weather and time of year. The beach is excellent for shells and cast-up seaweeds. In a few places, the living shells and growing seaweeds may be seen.
PLEASE LEAVE THE PLANTS AND ANIMALS WHERE YOU FIND THEM
Start at the Beaches Cafe at Seafield at the Northern end of the large public car park. Cars may be left in small free car park if you are visiting the cafe.
Walk along the promenade in the direction of Doonfoot. Look over the low wall. The commonest plant is the tall sea lyme grass with its stiff bluish-green leaves and fat spike of yellow-green flowers. There are few patches of marram grass which has stiff rolled leaves. Both these grasses help to bind the sand. Also very common is the tall sea radish with its lemon-yellow flowers and strange pods containing a few large seeds. On the sand near the wall there may be a patch or two of lower growing sea rocket with pale mauve flowers. Another very common seashore plant is wild carrot with its tiny white flowers grouped into an umbrella shape, often hollow in the middle. The leaves are finely cut and the plant grows to a height of about half a metre. The large white daisy with fine leaves is Sea mayweed. Other plants in this area include tall curled dock, plenty of
dandelions and the low-growing bird's foot trefoil.
Next turn down the first concrete slope onto the path which runs between the promenade and the beach and turn left. The metre high bushy plant is mugwort. As well as low-growing plants of many kinds you will pass bushes of prickly whins (gorse), dark green broom and large patches of the attractive deep-pink Rosa rugosa.
Notice how it spreads by means of branches and seedlings from the big red hips seen in the late summer. Many different birds visit these bushes, of which the most prominent is the stonechat. Look for tiny plants growing close to the ground like stonecrop with its chubby water-storing leaves and yellow star-like flowers, mosses of several kinds, the leathery-looking black dog lichen with its white under surface and at some times of year toad stools and puffballs.
Now you are right amongst the plants you can look for the insects and snails which live amongst them. On a dry sunny day there will be plenty of insects, such as butterflies, beetles, hoverflies and bumble bees visiting the flowers for nectar and pollen. On a damp day, especially early in the morning, there are usually plenty of snails, including the large garden snails and the attractive banded or brown-lipped snails which exist in many colour varieties and patterns. If you are not fortunate enough to see the living snails, look for their empty shells on patches of bare ground. Sometimes you find ones which have probably by song thrushes.
Opposite the third concrete slope, turn right on the path to the beach. This passes through a dense growth of sea lyme grass and leads out on to the beach beside a stagnant burn and the remains of brick and concrete buildings. If the tide is out the low rocks will be exposed, on which several kinds of seaweeds grow and limpets, barnacles and periwinkles live.
Turn to the right, back towards Seafield and follow the strandline which marks the position of high tide and where seaweeds and other marine life lie stranded (very often jelly fish). Stir up some of the seaweed with a stick to disturb sandhoppers and seaweed flies. Turn the seaweed back to protect them. On the seaward side of this you can find up to twenty or so different kinds of shells.
There will be guided walks along this trail once a month from May to September. See notices at the Beaches Cafe for dates and times.