Bridge of Ross
Bridge of Ross
press to zoom
Ross Bay
Ross Bay
press to zoom
The Cove
The Cove
press to zoom
Lichen and Seaweeds
Lichen and Seaweeds
press to zoom
Gutweed
Gutweed
press to zoom
1/6

 

The coast at the townland of Ross is best known for its geological features, first and foremost the Bridge of Ross, the last of formerly three rock arches spanning a narrow canal.

The area is however also one of the best places on the peninsula to explore the intertidal zone and its rich flora and fauna. Ross Bay and a small unnamed cove offer unique access to this colourful and fascinating world.

The west facing Ross Bay with its boulder beach and protecting rock platforms to the north and south is best explored at spring tides when the lower shore gets exposed. Some of the highlights to be seen here are Snakelocks Anemonoe, the tiny Blue-Rayed Limpet which feeds on exclusively on Kelp, Cotton Spinner and with some luck even a Lobster hiding in a crevice under the rocks. The lower shore also hosts a wide variety of seaweeds including Kelp, Sea Lettuce and various wrack species. The invasive Sargassum unfortunately has also been taking hold in the area.

While Ross Bay features some patches of coarse sand under the boulders and rocks, the Cove is a classic example for a rocky shore. The bare rock is in some places covered in Acorn Barnacles, Common Limpets and Common Mussels, in others a thick carpet of seaweeds - Thong Weed, wrack species and various encrusting seaweeds - hides the rock surface. Numerous rockpools have been carved out of the rock and host a wonderful flora and fauna including the Velvet Horn, Hermit Crab, Sea Hare, Black Sea Urchin and Beadlet Anemone. Starfish including Spiny Starfish, Seven Armed Starfish and Common Starfish as well as the Edible Sea Urchin also appear in the rockpools and under the seaweeds, especially after rough weather. Edible and Flat Periwinkles and Topshells, including the pretty Painted Topshell, are also common.

Ross Bay is also a good place to see Grey Seals which come into the bay to hunt for flatfish and relax on the rock platforms. In spring Whimbrels take a break in the area on their long journey from their wintering grounds in Spain and Africa to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Basking Sharks also visit the area during spring and summer and at times can be seen close up in the cove. In October and November Ross is a popular spot to watch for birds on their autumn migration.

The grassy patches above the high tide mark and on the cliff tops feature a variety of wildflowers including Scurvy Grass, Wild Thyme, Common Heather, Sheep’s Bit and English Stonecrop.

For more information on the intertidal flora and fauna please visit Carsten Krieger's Nature Stories.

For a detailed listing of species and habitats please visit this page.