1. Things to take on a beachcoming trip
A tide table, bags for finds, camera, wellies and warm clothes. Things I've often wished I had with me, and haven't, include: a penknife, hand lens, specimen pots, margarine tub, ID book and antibacterial hand gel.
2. When and where to go
I go to any beach at any time, and am often completely surprised by what I do and don't find. There are usually rich pickings after storms or gales though, often hidden amongst the piles of seaweed.
3. Which beaches?
By-the-wind sailors and other exotic, long distance travellers often strand during prolonged westerly gales. As Britain’s prevailing winds are from the south-west, our west-facing beaches are particularly good.
4. Local specialities
Beaches can be surprisingly specific in what they collect, due to peculiarities of local currents, geography and offshore habitats. Over the years I've come to think of certain local beaches as good for driftwood, plastic bottles, sea urchins, mermaid's purses, shoes, balls and by-sailors.
5. Best book
For help identifying finds, the best ID guide I’ve come across is The Essential Guide to Beachcombing and the Strandline (2015) by Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher.
7. Don’t take too much
Collect natural things sparingly. They are an important part of the strandline habitat, as food and shelter for creatures living there.
8. Stay safe
Always check tides and the weather forecast, and be careful of freak waves during storms, as they reach higher up the beach. Also be aware of potential cliff falls, mud-slides and estuary mud. It's a good idea to take a mobile phone.
9. Pick up rubbish
Consider spending a few minutes removing man-made litter, to bin or recycle. See the excellent 2 Minute Beach Clean at www.beachclean.net or #2minutebeachclean.
10. Join the Gang
Do also consider joining an organised beach clean. Surprisingly things often turn up, and there are usually some dedicated, long-term beachcombers on hand with some fascinating information.
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