Winter wildlife at Birling Gap

Gorse flowering at Birling Gap

After the busy migration period things slow down at Birling Gap for wildlife. Storms take center stage at this time and the beach changes shape weekly.

Winter at Birling Gap can seem to be very quiet with no sign of life. The strong winds and heavy rains keep things hidden in whatever shelter they can find. Grasses have mainly stopped growing and the flowering plants stopped flowering. But the yellow flower of the gorse is always visible adding a splash of colour and it's heavy coconut scent still fills the air.

 The resident birds group together with charms of goldfinches and flocks of linnets searching for seed heads. Unusual birds can be seen around the buildings and car parks at Birling Gap, the showy black redstart and more subdued rock pipits. 

Male black redstart
A male Black Redstart perched on a rock.

Warm sunny days may tempt hibernating butterflies, brimstones and red admiral out of their hiding places. While mammal runs and tracks are easy to spot, rabbits dig for roots leaving small piles of earth behind.

Red admirail butterfly
Red admiral

The low afternoon sun highlights marks in the grassland, these low banks are remains from prehistoric field boundaries. Winter see Exmoor ponies grazing the grassland around Belle Tout. These adaptable and hardy ponies are a native British breed and are suited to the rough conditions here.  They graze off the invasive tor grass to allow the more fragile chalk grassland plants to thrive.

Exmoor ponies
Exmoor ponies