Rock carvings at Studland in February

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P1110211Blog1 Graffiti carved into the soft red and yellow striped sandstone cliffs at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (1) 

I wonder how many Valentine’s Day lovers have carved their name over the years on this rock? This cliff can be seen at the western end of Studland beach in Dorset, UK (part of the designated World Heritage Jurassic Coastline). The strata are composed of multi-coloured sandstone. The reds, pinks, and yellows of the layers result from various degrees of iron-staining in the sediments.

The substrate is very soft and a great temptation for would-be artists who have regularly carved names, dates, and pictures into the rock leaving a permanent record of their holiday.

Less obvious and more intriguing are the hundreds of regular holes that are distributed over wide areas of the same cliff surface. Closer inspection of these cavities reveals that they are sometimes lined with a delicate translucent papery sheath.

These holes are created by members of the Hymenoptera family – the bees and wasps. I am not sure exactly which species was responsible for these particular tunnels in the rock as, being February and cold, I did not see any living insects. However, mason wasps would be likely candidates for the tenancy of these homes. Perhaps someone reading this post could tell me what species made these holes?

P1110226Blog2 Hymenopteran insect burrows in the soft red and white sandstone cliffs at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (2) 


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