I had planned to blog about the Ringed Plovers today. However, a litter pick with Jim, a Landguard volunteer, resulted in such an unusually large haul I thought I’d blog about it here.
Being a coastal site and a windy one too, a lot of rubbish such as plastic bags can be blown in to Landguard from quite some distance away. Obviously anything can wash up too whether from further up or down the coast or off a boat, including of late: toothbrushes, expandable insulation foam, bubble wrap, shreds of plastic and wood. Items that should have been placed in dustbins rather than down the loo, including cotton ear buds and sanitary waste, are also frequent finds.
But there are many other items that are clearly left by Landguard visitors and as with all these things the effect is cumulative. And sadly it only takes a few people to have a big effect. The majority of visitors to Landguard not only put their rubbish in the bins and bag and bin their dog waste, but even go so far as to collect up any “extra” rubbish they see. Here are some of the things removed from the beach today at Landguard.
Someone had a fire on the beach and here are the remains. There are byelaws against fires at Landguard. One reason is that the burnt remains of a fire can provide too much enrichment to the shingle. The plants that live here thrive on the poor, salty, dry conditions that exist - any soil enrichment will encourage invasive plants such as bramble, nettle and thistle at the expense of these more typical shingle plants.
This plastic bag contained faeces and stones. The plastic bag will never completely disappear even if it breaks into smaller pieces.
A number of obvious parties had taken place on the beach with cans and bottles and tinfoil from sandwiches, yoghurt pots, plastic cutlery, etc.
And someone had cleaned up hands and faces but left all their wet wipes behind. These wipes do not quickly break down - they are designed to stay wet without breaking down and are found in all stages of decomposition on the beach.
Finally, on the beach were two balloons, one all caught up in seaweed which might be attractive to any number of marine animals. Balloons can block animal’s digestive systems and they can also get trapped in the long strings. The Marine Conservation Society runs a campaign to encourage people to pop balloons when they are finished with them and to find alternatives to balloon and sky lantern releases. More on their “Don’t Let Go” campaign here: www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do/Clean+seas+and+beaches/campaigns+and+policy/Don't+let+go+-+balloons+and+sky+lanterns
On the grass were four tennis balls that were no longer of use to man or beast. And dog waste.
There were also plenty of cigarette butts which can be mistaken by birds as grubs. There are two pictures here of birds eating butts: www.beachapedia.org/Cigarette_Butt_Litter
So what can you do to help
Whether at home or at Landguard, please use bins… for balloons, sanitary waste, dog waste, plastic bags, picnic waste and fish bait papers.
And of course there are objects you find, obviously left behind by families in a rush, that make you smile…