Medmerry RSPB Reserve

Field meeting reports
Picture of new saltmarsh forming at Medmerry
New saltmarsh forming. Photo: Nick Sturt

Meeting date: 10 August 2019 [Cancelled]

(Leader: Nick Sturt)

Gradually the Met. Office forecast warned of higher winds and rain until, with gusts predicted to be in excess of 50mph, it seemed the only sensible course was to cancel the meeting. I looked back to the sunshine of a few days earlier when Elisabeth and I had walked the route, starting over from the Easton Farm entry point to sample Ruth’s Marsh. The lines of poplars here are succumbing to the ingress of the salt water and already there are establishing on the tidal flats Suaeda maritima (Annual Sea-blite), Atriplex portulacoides (Sea-purslane) and other familiar saltmarsh species.  We did not notice, however, any Frankenia laevis (Sea-heath) which formed a broad swathe last September when we visited with the RSPB warden. Rejoining the track that runs down this western side of the reserve we enjoyed both freshwater and brackish conditions, supporting a good array of species but we were unable to spot the dramatic new dragonfly, the Green-eyed Hawker. The soil here is mainly clay and there was abundant Juncus inflexus (Hard Rush), sporadic J. articulatus (Jointed Rush) and quite a lot of Lathyrus nissolia (Grass Vetchling) in fruit. The horizons are wide and as we proceeded past Marsh Barn the sound and then the sight of the sea – pounding in as it was a decidedly windy day. It is a brisk half-hour walk from the start until the shingle bank is reached. There the usual specialists are to be found and behind it the flat gravelly strip revealed some browning Trifolium scabrum  (Rough Clover) with many more treasures to be discovered among the long grass and in the rife. The warden is happy for us to arrange a date to put in our 2020 programme and so I hope that at about the same time next year we shall secure conditions which will permit the enjoyment of a very special site.