MEMBERS of a conservation group have been investigating local wildlife from the countryside and the sea shore during a two recent expeditions.
The first walk led members from the Ferring Conservation Group past the rare vegetated shingle along the beach near Shoreham Fort.
Shoreham Beach was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2006, and the shingle spit, nearly three miles long, is said to be a ‘kaleidoscope of colours’ during the summer.
During this walk, Ferring Conservation Group examined the Sea Kale, a pioneer plant on the shingle.
It is adapted to withstand the harsh conditions, with its very long tap root.
Other plants like Sea Campion, Thrift and Woody Nightshade, and Sedums were spotted on the tro, alog with the Silver Ragwort and the Yellow-horned Poppy.
Tricia Hall, a Ferring Conservation Group committee member, said: “The ‘star’ of our visit was a very rare plant known as Starry-headed Clover which has small,cream flowers.
“The fruits form into star-like structures on the flower head, hence the name.”
“Our second trip was to Highdown on July 22.
“The group was set a 10 flower challenge and we identified many of the key species which constitute a chalk meadow: Ladies Bedstraw; Salad Burnet; Ribwort Plantain and Knapweed together with various grasses.
“There were also many Pyramidal Orchids.
“We examined Yellow or Hay Rattle which is an interesting semi-parasite.
“It has green leaves and therefore carries out photosynthesis, but its roots form little suckers on grasses from which it absorbs water and nutrients, thus weakening the grasses and allowing other flowers to move in and become established.
“The seeds develop inside a dry capsule and ‘rattle’, hence its name.
“It is an important plant in the establishment of ‘new’ meadows.
“Not many birds were seen but we had close encounters with swallows swooping over the ground in search of insects and young swallows were sitting on a branch.
“We had a stunning view of a linnet.
“We also saw a number of Marbled White butterflies but were unable to get good views until we found several very smart individuals nectaring on clover and obviously recently emerged. They were the stars of this visit.”
For more information about the Ferring Conservation Group, visit www.ferringconservationgroup.co.uk.
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