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18 June 2014
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Estuaries | Spurn Point

Down the woods

Spurn Point

Spurn Point is one of the most striking features of Britain's coastline, stretching for three and a half miles across the Humber Estuary.

It's one of the most fragile and unique environments in the whole of the UK.

Superlative Spurn Point

This stretch of coastline is made of boulder clay that was deposited during the Ice Age.

The clay is really soft and unstable, and is prone to being eroded by the sea.

In fact this is the 6th Spurn to be recorded - the others have been washed away, and new ones formed in their place.

This curving spit is only 50 metres wide in places, making it look like an elongated tongue.

Spurn is a relatively small place but it's got lots of variety, and, if you know where to look, there's some great plants and animals.

It has become a dumping ground from sand and pebbles from further up the coast, making the beach a great place for fossil hunters.

Fragile habitats

Spurn PointSpurn's fragile but unique location means that there are many different communities of plants living side by side.

Many of the plants at Spurn have adapted to live in this quite hostile environment.

The island's sand dunes are a good place to find Sea Buckthorn and Marram Grass, species which help to stabilise and bind the dunes together through their root systems.

You can also find Sea Holly which grows on dunes especially where the sand is moving around - these are plants designed to retain moisture.

On the other side of Spurn, the island is washed by the waters of the Humber twice a day so the vegetation has to adapt to being immersed every 12 hours.

Plants such as Glasswort are also helping to build the next Spurn Point with their roots helping to solidify the mud.

Another striking plant of the dunes is the Sea Bindweed, characterised by its small, flashy leaves and large pink and white flowers.

Whinchat c/o RSPBWildlife haven

Spurn is best known for its birds, and the best time to see them is early in the morning.

The island is on a north-south-east-west axis for passing birds, resulting in some real oddities that land on Spurn out of the blue.

In August and September bird watchers can spot Wheatear, Whinchat, Redstart, and Spotted Flycatchers.

Many wading birds like to feed on the mudflats, where they probe for worms and other creatures. Look out for Dunlin, Redshank and Curlews.

Large numbers of Shelduck gather in the estuary, just near Warren Cottage, in the winter, along with Brent Geese which over winter at Spurn between November and March.

Newt c/o English NatureReptiles

Spurn Point is also an important wildlife haven for reptiles including the common lizard.

Common lizards come in all sorts of beautiful colours, and the best time to see them is during July when they are giving birth to their young.

This island habitat is also great for insects, including Caterpillars and Moths.

Look out for the Lackey Moth, with striped colours resembling the livery lace once worn by servants or lackeys.

These communal moths hang out in great numbers in trees, possibly to keep an even temperature or as a defence mechanism against predators.

Spurn is also a good place to look for amphibians such as Newts which live on the saltwater shoreline here.

 

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