La Rocque and fish trap Friday, Mar 11 2016 

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Today was fine and settled after what has been a very wet start to the year, coupled with a rise and fall of tide of 11.8 metres I decided to go for a walk down the main gutter below La Rocque Harbour and look at something I had discovered a couple of years back. The harbour was built in the early 19th century to shelter the fishing boats that fished around the south east coast and Les Minquiers where they would stay for up to a week and fish for lobsters and then return their catch and have it transported by boat and train to London. When the harbour was built it was said that 40 boats were using the area.

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The photo above is taken from the lower part of the gully looking back towards the harbour

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Eelgrass – Zostera marina

Once you are at the bottom of the gutter it opens up to plains of sand and rocks dotted around there is plenty of areas to explore and find some of the above pictured, eelgrass is on the IUCN red list and is in decline, it suffers from a wasting disease and pollution, there were notable losses locally due to disease in  the early 20th century. It was also once a popular filling for matresses and known as “Palliasses”.

The area is also a haven for birds and at this time of year we have over wintering Brent Geese who will shortly be leaving for the Artic to breed, and Red Breasted Mergansers, I did not see any terns but Sandwich terns can be seen all the year round, and Common terns will be arriving from warmer climes next month.

The line of stones in the middle of the sand are man made and originally when I saw them some years back I thought they may have been a track for carts, but I now think they are some sort of fish trap (Pêcherie), there is another line of stones barely visible on this picture, they are just behind the reef.

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Fishtrap ?

Anne Port walk Sunday, Dec 23 2012 

I parked up by Victoria Tower built in 1837, to get to here you drive along the road to and past Haut de la Garenne turn the sharp left hand corner and immediately turn right down a drive which takes you to the tower, on your left is the old naval training school founded by Philip Saumarez which ran from 1860 to 1875 and was the model for the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

Gorey naval school

Gorey naval school

The headland belongs to the  National Trust and it is worth walking around the area which gives you views to the south and north, this areas could do with interpretation boards for tourists and locals to highlight the numerous interesting features that can be seen or are in the area. From here you take a path below and to the right of the tower it is very muddy and slippery in winter so you need some decent footwear.

Path down to Anne Port

Path down to Anne Port

You descend to the main road coming out near the site where the building pictured below was sited, and you are facing the old cafe which is now lying in a sad and neglected state.

Anne Port

Anne Port

I made my way down by Jeffrey’s Leap which involves a bit of climbing so the slip to the beach is a more sensible route. On a low water spring tide you can walk to the stretch of sand below the headland where the remains of what looks to have been some man made structure and possibly part of a fish trap known in French as a pêcherie it is suggested that the line of stones at La Saie is also a fish trap but I am not convinced as they are not in a line for trapping as these are forming an open ended “V” as you can see from some aerial pictures in this PDF of these in nearby France. These stones could also have been something to do with othet practices such as oyster beds, or the collecting of vraic perhaps.

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In the mouth of this V is some Zostera marina or seagrass there are two types in the area the other being Zostera noltii being a thinner and shorter more grass like than the marina which has a flat stalk which can grow up to a metre long, you will see noltii across most of the low water area of the bay, and some small amounts of Zostera marina also mixed in at the northern coves. The whole St Catherines bay is an important area for both species and have been included in a number of studies suggesting they be protected, these areas support a variety of species and considerable number of juvenile fish, it is also an important food source for the over wintering Brent geese Branta bernicla. The grasses once dried were once used locally and in France as bedding material and were known as “Palliasses” (Pallets of straw). On this day I also came across several dead moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita which were fairly numerous alive in the summer months this year.

A mixture of the two Zostera species

A mixture of the two Zostera species

If you make your way across to the far side of the bay to La Crete with one of the old breakwater quarries above you, on the beach end you will see an important geological formation of columnar rhyolite  the area is also a popular one for seabirds as it provides a secluded high tide roosting area and several species of wader can be see here. I did raise these issues with the authorities in the hope it would receive some protection but they never even bothered to reply or just ignored the issues and instead placed a drain onto the area which is part of the Coastal National Park which would appear to be just a paper designation of little or no meaning and it is certainly not acheiving the objective for: “the conservation and enhancement the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of ”

Coastal Park site of geological importance with public drain!

Coastal Park site of geological importance with public drain!

I observed several birds on the shoreline including Oystercatchers, Little egrests, a Grey heron, Brent geese, Redshanks, Sanderlings,  Rockpipits, a what appeared to be a Great northern diver. I left the beach by the slip turning left then right and climbed up the hill road to Faldouet which takes its name from the stream (Douet) some say Fal means foul but I would like to think it might be related to the Cornish meaning Prince as in the River Fal, but this is not certain as it can also mean spade or shovel. The road takes you up to the dolmen which is one of the more impressive passage graves in the island and is one of two aligned with the solar equinox, the capstone which has an estimated weight of 24 tons comes from a short distance away. On leaving the dolmen turn left and you are only a short distance from where you originally parked.

La Pouquelaye de Faldouet

La Pouquelaye de Faldouet

An Bollenessor

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