Morston Marsh

Morston Marsh (9 August 2015)

Solitary wsp



Sparrow in sueda


Sea wormwood

Blakeney point watch house

It was an almost perfect summer morning which greeted a small group of members at Morston Quay car park at 9.30am; the sun shone, the sky was blue with just a few fair-weather clouds, and, importantly for an exposed location, the breeze was very light, offshore and warm.
Our party was led by Colin Dunster, and the primary purpose was looking at saltmarsh plants; Colin started by saying that one could get away with knowing 20 to 25 saltmarsh species, and then spoilt the concept by telling us that there were multiple subspecies of ones we thought ourselves familiar with, such as samphire. Looking over the marsh, the views were full of the purple of sea lavender (but there are 4 subspecies of that). He showed us sea wormwood, a plant which appears to be spreading, cord grass, important for stabilising the marsh, and told us of the dangers of sea purslane, which has a habit of growing over gullies, so walking over what appears to be solid vegetation can turn into a slide into deep mud. We saw shrubby sea blite (sueda), which is useful in providing cover for (i.e. hiding, from a birdwatcher's point of view) migrating birds in spring.
We walked down towards the harbour; the tide was still low, but incoming; in the channel we saw oystercatchers, redshank, turnstone, ringed plover and one greenshank; further out were flocks of golden plover, a single grey plover and a group of about 30 curlew. Overhead it was the raptors which caught the eye; two peregrine falcons, marsh harrier, two kestrels and two female sparrowhawks hunting just above the vegetation.
Colin then showed us a beach; at least it had been a beach 40000 years ago. It still has sand and shingle and stands no more than a foot above the surrounding saltmarsh. Here are different plants, the last flowers of thrift, haresfoot clover, grasses and various hawkbits.
And so back to the car park; in retrospect, it was surprising that there were not more butterflies on the marsh; we managed to see a couple of whites, one ringlet and a rather faded painted lady. Our thanks go to Colin for showing us this special habitat.