Monday, September 6, 2010


There are few more pleasant ways to idle away an afternoon than to indulge in a spot of beachcombing, discovering what the falling tide has left behind, and when we arrived at Warkworth beach last Saturday lunchtime the tide had just turned, leaving a trail of marine artefacts, like the crimped pie-crust carapace of this edible crab .....

... and the saw-toothed carapace of a shore crab.

Recent rough seas had scoured the sand and cast up thousands of these sand mason worms, with their tubes constructed from grains of sand ....

... but this dog whelk, with its tough, thick shell may have been rolling around in the surf for weeks.

This is a mollusc that doesn't belong on the shore at all - it's a grove or brown-lipped snail Cepaea nemoralis, which is an air-breathing species that lives amongst the marram grass on the sand dunes behind the beach. Maybe a bird caught it and dropped it on the beach, or it might have been dislodged when a spring tide eroded the edge of the dune. This species comes in a variety of background colours and banding patterns, but many on the dunes here are either pure yellow or sometimes pink.

This is the delicate mauve interior of the rayed trough shell, which is decorated with markings ....

..... like the rays of the setting sun on its outer surface.

Banded wedge shells come in a range of colours, including brown and purple, but the pure yellow ones are particularly attractive.  

The star find was this tower or auger shell, Turritella communis. It's common enough around much of Britain, especially on the west coast, but this is the first time that I've found it here in thirty years of walking along this beach.

And finally, a modern archaeological curiosity - a clay pipe. I wonder who lost this, and how long ago - maybe a fisherman who dropped it overboard? Whoever it belonged to, it must have remained buried in the sand until a convergence of rough weather and high tide scoured it out and left it on the tide line.

For more beachcombing on Warkworth beach, visit


  1. What a successful beachcomb. :)Lots of beautiful items there...... and it's intriguing to imagine the story behind the clay pipe.

  2. Great finds on the beach Phil. So much to see, when we look.

  3. It's a while since I walked the shore line. Your sightings made a nice contrast to the broken fishing nets, plastic bottles and other stuff that gets dumped overboard in the Humber. Nice also to be able to recognise what you are looking at!

  4. I always come back with a pocket full of shells Lesley - can't help it....

  5. I find the best time is after a really good storm Keith - there's all sorts washed up then.

  6. Hi John, there was a time when the shore at Cleetorpes, where my wife comes from, was lined with peas - waste from the frozen vegetable industry. Plastic litter in the sea is a problem everywhere though...


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