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17 September 2014
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Jersey

Spring sensations

Jeresy c/o Jersey Tourist Board

Lying over 100 miles south of the British mainland, Jersey is the most southerly of the Channel Islands.

The island's position and climate result in a marvellous mix of wildlife.

Sunshine and the Gulf Stream boost wildlife. c/o Jersey Tourist Board

Jersey has one of the best sunshine records in the British Isles - it is warmed by the waters of the nearby Gulf Stream.

Wildlife thrives and nature highlights include vast arrays of spring flowers, and the rich marine life living in the shimmering waters around the island.

Courting creatures

Bouley Bay c/o /o Jersey Tourist BoardBouley Bay in the north east of Jersey is a sheltered bay with shallow, clear waters which in springtime is alive with courting sea creatures.

Spring is a busy time for the natural world and marine creatures are no exception.

As the days lengthen and the water slowly begins to warm up, all sorts of fascinating fish courtships are triggered.

One of the creatures that lurks in these waters is the Lumpsucker, a knobbly rugby shaped fish which is normally a deepwater resident.

The male lumbers into the shallows at the end of winter where he makes a nest and settles down for the female.

Once the female has laid up to 100,000 eggs, he is left to guard them, keeping them clean and well supplied with oxygen.

Under sea wonders

Snorkellers can dive into the water and swim amongst forest of kelp, and see Corkwing Wrasse, Dragonets, and even Cuttlefish.

The male Corkwing Wrasse displays a vivid colour at this time of year to attract females who spray eggs into the nest - the male then fertilises.

When it comes to attracting opposite sex there is one little fish that surpasses all others.

For much of the year the Dragonet is a drab, mottled brown colour, easily overlooked on the sandy sea bed where lives, but in late spring he develops shimmering turquoise stripes and spots outlined in black.

He darts around possible mates, pausing to display an elaborate dorsal fine spanning full length of back and arching forward beyond his nose, a peacock of this watery world.

May is also time for Cuttlefish to mate - these great chameleons of the sea are characterised by the zebra patterned male who passes the female a sealed parcel of sperm which she stores in her body till eggs ready to be fertilised.

She can lay 200 eggs, lacing each one with dark ink.

Most female Cuttlefish mate only once and die soon after the eggs are laid, but their skeletons can sometimes be seen washed up on shore.

Carpet of flowers

Marguerite flower c/o /o Jersey Tourist BoardIn spring Jersey has a profusion of flowers that make the island a sea of vivid colour.

St Ouens Bay is one of the best places to see this natural spectacle.

Stretching along almost the whole length of the west side of the island, and boasts a wide variety of flowers, including a range of the most flamboyant flower of all, the orchid which aren't found on the mainland.

Jersey is geographically much closer to France and that's reflected in the French names such as Le Noir Pre, the black meadow.

The meadow is part of a marshy area known as St Ouens Pond, or La Mare au Seigneur, the sea of a local noble.

Many areas of marshland and wet meadows have been drained in the past, but this precious habitat has been saved and is now owned by the National Trust for Jersey

Jersey so good for a diversity of flowers because of its warm climate with few frosts.

Orchid orgy

Jersey /o Jersey Tourist BoardIt's sometimes possible to find eight or nine species of Orchid in Jersey.

During the Second World War the Germans who occupied the island built a series of large scale defences including anti-tank ditches 100s of metres long.

After the war these ditches were sometimes used as a parish dump, filled with rubbish - but then the Orchids started to come back and they took over.

By the mid 1990s there were 1,500. Now at the peak of the season, their numbers reach nearly 25,000.

At the south end of bay Le Quennevais/Les Blanches banques is one of largest sand dune systems in British Isles.

Visitors can see a spectacular display of Early Purple and Green Winged Orchids, Nottingham Catchfly, Sand Catchfly, fragrant Evening Primrose and ground hugging Burnet Rose.

Photo credits

Photographs courtesy and copyright of Jersey Tourist Board.

 

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