The peaceful cove beach at North Landing, set snugly within the Chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head, was to provide the sort of excitement which I hope for when recording on the shore. The narrow beach is bounded by cliffs with many sea caves including one spectacular one on the east side of the inlet.
The beach is composed of sand and pebbles and there are rock pools on the platforms which bound the cove. Taking a torch and a few specimen tubes I investigated a narrow cave cutting obliquely into the cliff on the east margin. The north-facing wall offered all the geological, geomorphological and biological features I have come to associate with ‘the crevice fauna’. I wrote about these, and figured them, in my Marine Recorder’s report to the Conchological Society for 2009.
The micromolluscs which inhabit the zone of the shore, known as the upper- and supralittoral, have been an ongoing interest of mine since the mid-80s. Some of the members of this microfauna are rare and elusive but I have developed a nose for them. With sustained searching in the cave, involving close examination of the fractures and fissures in the Chalk with a torch beam I managed to find a handful of specimens of Otina ovata, an air-breathing snail with a shell length of 2-3mm.
Before I leave the shore I investigate an adjacent cave whose small entrance belies the dimensions of the cave within. It opens out into a wide, high-ceilinged gallery. Initially confronted with gloom, you are then aware of a source of daylight round the corner of the small entrance chamber. This is coming from another entrance at right angles to the access point on the upper shore. The second entrance gives out onto the sea-facing lower shore kelp zone. The floor and walls are evidently subjected to high wave action, being more or less smoothly worn and bare of life. You can only appreciate the dimensions of this cave by searching for the human figure, dressed unhelpfully in greyish blue, in this photo:
Subsequently I learn it is the first record for the east coast of Britain in 100 years. That’s what biological recording is all about.