Coastal wildlife

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Stackpole is a naturalist's dream. A walk along the cliffs over the coastal grassland of Stackpole Warren, with Broadhaven and Barafundle at either end, offers a chance to see birds, flowers and butterflies in profusion.

Some of our most important and rare plants are also the hardest to see - the lichens which grow on the sandy soil.

Chough

Two or three pairs of chough breed along Stackpole's coastline. These handsome crows nest in caves and crevices in the cliffs, and rarely stray far inland.

You may hear them before you see them - a nasal "kee-aow". In flight they've more squared-off, "fingered" wings than jackdaws (the commonest coastal crow) and a bouncy flight.

In summer, they're often seen in pairs or family groups. In winter, you may be lucky enough to see a small flock. They feed largely on insects and grubs for which they probe in the short coastal turf or in the dung of grazing cattle.

Plants

To pick out just a few - in May, Stackpole Head and Saddle Point turn blue with the flowering of the Spring Squill. The beaches and dunes support specialist plants able to survive in such dry and salty conditions such as sea holly and sea kale.

Stackpole is full of colour when its orchids bloom, there is a great range here from early purple orchids to Autumn Ladies' Tresses. Look out for bee and pyramidal orchids in the dunes, and marsh orchids in the damp sandy areas behind Broadhaven South and Freshwater West.

Stackpole is special for its soil lichens which are found on some of the thinnest and driest soils near the coast, where the competing vegetation is kept down by grazing and trampling. The rare Scrambled Egg Lichen is so called because it looks like small splashes of scrambled egg.

Butterflies

At least thirty species are commonly found here. Many of them depend on short grazed grassland rich in coastal flowers. One is the silver-studded blue.

Once the vegetation gets too tall or scrub starts to move in, we start to lose some of our butterfly species, so it is important that we keep it open with the help of grazing animals, sheep (in winter only, as they eat flowers!), cattle and Welsh Mountain Ponies.