Shoreham Beach

Field meeting reports
Picture of Trifolium stellatum (Starry Clover)
Trifolium stellatum (Starry Clover). Photo: Brad Scott

Meeting date: 4 September 2016

(Leaders: Jacky Woolcock and Nick Sturt)

On a bright, breezy morning twenty six people gathered in the car park at the eastern end of Shoreham Beach LNR where they were greeted by Jacky Woolcock and Nick Sturt. Jacky had thoughtfully provided exactly the right number of parking permits for us all.  SBRS had been invited by The Friends Of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) to survey the plants. FOSB is a voluntary organisation founded in 2006 when the beach was designated as a Local Nature Reserve and is dedicated to preserving and protecting its habitats. Jacky gave us a brief introductory talk and explained that Shoreham Beach LNR lies on the seaward side of a shingle spit at the mouth of the river Adur. The spit is formed of pebbles washed down after the last ice age and transported along the coast by longshore drift; the shingle supports many interesting plants and a wide range of wildlife. We began our survey on the stable shingle by the fort and worked our way westwards along the spit. There were many of the species to be expected in this habitat such as Crambe maritima (Sea Kale), Glaucium flavum (Yellow Horned-poppy), Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima (Sea Beet), Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache),  Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache), Armeria maritima (Thrift) and Silene uniflora (Sea Campion).  Even though it was late in the season there were a fair number of plants still in flower and many more in fruit.  On the gravelly shingle we found plentiful plants of Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii  (Ray’s Knotgrass) with black shiny fruits.

Picture of Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii  (Ray’s Knotgrass)
Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii (Ray’s Knotgrass). Photo: Brad Scott

Interesting clovers included Trifolium stellatum still in flower, T. scabrum and T. arvense (Starry, Rough and Hare’s-foot Clovers).  We were able to compare four Sedum species; S.  acre, S. album, S. anglicum and S. spurium (Biting, White, English and Caucasian Stonecrops) and a patch of Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge) was a nice surprise.

Picture of Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)
Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge). Photo: Brad Scott

Invasive plants were being successfully kept under control by FOSB, only one specimen of Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose) and a small patch of Carpobrotus edulis (Hottentot Fig) were evident.  Some of us enjoyed a bracing lunch looking out to sea while others chose a sheltered spot to keep out of the wind. Walking on shingle was quite hard going so we were glad to retrace our steps along the boardwalk. Jacky led us to the north side of the spit to a site near the Harbour Club overlooking the River Adur where, on a small area of relic dune, we were rewarded by a good number of plants of Petrorhagia nanteuilii (Childing Pink), many still in flower.  Over one hundred different species were recorded during the day and another visit planned for early summer next year should add to our tally. Thank you, Jacky and Nick, for arranging such a great meeting, we were promised a “seaside treat” and this trip certainly lived up to expectations.