Summer time on the Seven Sisters

Belle Tout lighthouse viewed from went Hill

Summer time at Birling Gap is a time of plenty as the downs flower en masse, butterflies are floating around and birds are nesting in the scrub and on the cliffs. On sunny days the sea turns bright blue and the white cliffs shine while the beach fills with people.

Summer at Birling Gap is a time of plenty as the downs flower en masse, butterflies are floating around and birds are nesting in the scrub and on the cliffs. On sunny days the sea turns bright blue and the white cliffs shine while the beach fills with people.

A flower filled sea view
A flower filled sea view

If you are walking on a sunny day over the downs you will smell the scent of herbs in the air.  These are the wild relatives of the ones used in your kitchen. Wild marjoram is the showiest and is attractive to many insects, thyme is small and grows in areas with short turf, wild basil is found in longer grass and wood sage grows in the scrubbier areas on sandy soil.

Wild thyme
A picture of wild thyme flowering on the downs above Birling Gap

In late summer on Belle Tout heathers grow next to chalk loving plants, the deep purple of bell heather flowers first and ling follows a little later.  These grow here because there are sandy patches of soil on top of the chalk, which creates a rare and beautiful habitat called chalk heath.

Heather
Heather at Bickerton Hill

Snakes and lizards start to appear as the weather starts to improve and the sun begins to shine.  As they are cold blooded they need to bask in the sunshine to keep themselves warm . The mixture of scrub and grass is ideal for reptiles providing places to sun themselves and plenty of food to eat. During the early morning adders can be surprisingly easy to spot in the grass warming up for the day ahead.  They are easy to disturb so do not approach them directly but just admire them from a distance.

A common lizard basking on a log
A common lizard basking on a log