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Essex, Colne Point, TM097134
Status: National Nature Reserve
Wildlife Trust reserve
Summary: A few other coastal Essex sites have some shingle banks, and several others have tracts of sandy ground. However, no other location has such extensive dune, lichen areas, shingle ridges, the mix of shingle, sand and mud substrates and the gradation of saltmarsh onto these drier habitats.
Description: Tidal or strandline debris in the form of seaweed, wood and general debris is an important habitat for a number of species of great conservation significance, including some invertebrate species for which Britain supports internationally important populations. It is important to leave strandline debris undisturbed and to try and prevent public access along the beach having an impact on these features. The vegetation cover of large areas is also very important and unique in Essex in an invertebrate context. There are large areas of lichen heath (important for certain spiders and other species) and Shrubby Seablite (which provides a structural habitat very similar to heathland e.g. for the unique Essex colour form of the crab spider Philodromus histrio). The east dune is the best dune habitat in Essex, providing a full range from fore dune through to stabilized rear dune and dense marram. Saltmarsh is an important habitat at the reserve and one that covers a very large proportion of its area. Sparsely vegetated and bare ground areas are also valuable components of the habitat for many species. Rabbit activity has exposed sand in various locations and these are important for ground nesting mining bees such as Colletes halophilus. Current levels of disturbance appear low and such low activity should be encouraged.
Reason for interest: Colne Point is well known as an important spider site, from the early days of the Flatford Mill Spider Study Group and the British Arachnological Society. It is one of the most important areas in Essex for scarce invertebrates, and is also of national importance. A substantial number of the species are to be found in only a handful of other locations in Britain. In an Essex context the area is unique.
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page last edited on Thu Dec 15th 2011 by site user 2