Moth trapping in Shingle Street

Here are the results of two moth trappings led by Nick Mason as part of the 2015 Shingle Street Survey, both held in Tricia Hazell’s garden at The Battery. The results tabulated here include just the larger ‘macro-moths’.

24 June 15

Calm, sunny morning. Hot in the sun (20C+).


Larval food plant


Burnished brass

Nettle, burdock

Gardens, marshland


Lucerne, herbaceous plants

Open areas, heathland

Tawny shears


Open areas, heathland


Nettles, bedstraw

Grassland, fenland.

Elephant hawkmoth

Rosebay willowherb

Shingle, grassland

Small magpie



Common swift

Grass roots


Satin wave

Herbaceous, grasses

Heathland, hedgerow

White ermine

Nettle, wild plum

Grassland, fens

Mottled rustic



Middle-barred minor


Damp grassland, fens

Tawny marbled minor


Damp grassland, fens

Straw dot


Damp grassland, fens

Shoulder-striped wainscot

Grasses and reeds

Damp grassland, fens


Root vegetable shoots

Coastal arable

Vines rustic

Herbaceous and grasses

Lowland pasture, arable, gardens

Mottled rustic

Herbaceous and grasses

Lowland pasture, arable, gardens

Heart and dart

Fat hen, plantain

Lowland pasture, arable, gardens


31 July 2015

Rain overnight and chilly, sunny and fair by 8am. A very small catch.


Larval food plant



Coarse grass, 

Marshy grassland

Common rustic

Grasses, cereals

Farmland, heathland

Mottled rustic

Herbaceous and grasses

Lowland pasture, arable, gardens




Common footman

Lichen and algae

Lowland woodland, coast

Scarce footman

Lichen and algae

Lowland woodland, coast

Brownline bright eye

Grasses, common crouch


Brightline brown eye

Nettle, tamarisk

Heathland saltmarshes

Silver Y

Bedstraw, nettles

Coastal  (immigrant)

On neither morning was there a big count, which makes you wonder if moth numbers have taken another big fall.
Jeremy Mynott and Tricia Hazell
11 August 2015

Shingle Street flora survey 2015

Shingle Street is an exacting place for its flora, especially plants of the shingle, saltmarsh and ultra-arid concrete. They are all superbly adapted to their hard life, from plants with taproots that probe metres-deep into the shingle in search of water, to species daily submerged by the tides, and tiny, rare clovers flourishing in compacted soil that are grazed by rabbits right down to the ground. They are all specialists in their own way: finding them, photographing and recording them in 2015 helps create an important benchmark.
Laurie and Jonathan Forsyth

Description of principle flora habitats

Unstable shingle
Steep, sliding shingle close to the sea, backed by a series of storm-made ridges divided by intervening furrows. The ages of the storm ridges increase progressively with distance from the sea, with each ridge older than its predecessor. The first pioneer plants – usually Orache sp – are found on the youngest ridges. In a stormy winter, this habitat may be entirely washed away, only to re-form again.
Vegetated shingle
Loose shingle on a succession of storm ridges with intervening furrows, often with a marked variation in the sizes of stones on top of the ridges, compared with the stones in furrows on either side. Sea kale Crambe maritima is particularly abundant in this habitat, as is sea pea Lathyrus japonicus, which is usually confined to the crests of the storm ridges, with yellow-horned poppy Glaucium flavum and curled dock Rumex crispus. A thin sward of false oatgrass Arrhenatherum elatius covers extensive areas of this habitat.
Bare, fixed shingle Shingle at the farthest point from the sea was deposited long ago, and may not have been disturbed for decades. Successive generations of moss and other low plants have become established, only to eventually die and decompose into thin soil that acts as a matrix around the stones, making them progressively more stable and suitable for further colonisation by more plants and moss. Where bare stone remains exposed it is often colonised by a variety of orange or black lichens and Cladonia lichens sp. Sea campion Silene maritima and several stonecrops Sedum sp are also found here.
Grassed shingle
On the seaward side of the cottages and more noticeably on the landward side, areas of shingle are immobile and almost invisible in many places, being covered with a dense sward of low flora-rich grasses. In areas where rabbit grazing has created a low sward and patches of disturbance through scuffling and burrowing, several rare or local species grow, including yellow vetch Vicia lutea, and the small clovers T. suffocatum, T.glomeratum and T. striatum. Bur medick Medicago minima is often found with these species. Taller species that flourish in this habitat include viper’s bugloss Echium vulgare, weld Reseda luteola, hoary mullein Verbascum pulverulentum, and valerian Centranthus rubra.
Vegetated seawall
Serpentine earth walls twist and turn, following both sides of the old course of the drained Barthorpe’s Creek. They are heavily vegetated by a small number of very dominant species, including false oatgrass, cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata,Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus, hemlock Conium maculatum, stinging nettle Urtica dioica, prickly sowthistle Sonchus asper and creeping thistle Cirsium arvense.
Although man-made, the arid surfaces of concrete roads are important features for lichens, stonecrops and other small plants. Cracked, broken areas of concrete and masonry are a good habitat for small species such as early forget me not Myosotis ramosissima, sticky mouse ear Cerastium glomerata, procumbent pearlwort Sagina procumbens, common whitlow grass Erophila verna and early hairgrass Aira praecox
Saltmarsh has formed where the shingle deflects waves or strong currents, allowing silt and mud to accumulate in calm, shallow water, such as either side of Barthorpe’s Creek. Eventually, when the accumulating material is deep enough, and raised high enough to be exposed for long periods between tides, it will be colonised by a succession of plant species. This usually begins with species of glasswort or samphire Salicornia sp. Daily tides submerge some areas of the saltmarsh for longer than others. Because of this and also because some plant species have a greater salt tolerance than others, different zones of salt-tolerant vegetation become established, ranging from glasswort at the lowest point, to sea wormwood Artemisia maritima and shrubby seablite Sueda vera at the highest point, which is often at the foot of the seawall. The bulk of vegetation in the ‘middle marsh’ usually consists of sea purslane, Atriplex portucaloides, sea lavender Limonium vulgare, and saltmarsh grasses.

Recorders: Laurie Forsyth & Jonathan Forsyth
Grid:TM 364432 Grass seawall This composite
Grid:TM 362427 Grass seawall species list is based
Grid:TM 365437 Grass seawall and scrub on walking
Grid:TM 369439 Grass seawall the listed grid points.
Grid:TM 369428 vegetated shingle Many species are
Grid:TM 369430 Grassed shingle found at several grid points,
Grid:TM 371439 Grass seawall others in just one or two
Grid:TM 368422 Grass seawall and vegetated shingle
Grid:TM 364424 Grass seawall, veg. Shingle, brackish pool
Grid: TM 368440 Saltmarsh
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Anthriscus caucalis Bur chervil
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley
Apium graveolens Wild Celery
Apium nodiflorum Fool's Water-Cress
Arctium minus Lesser Burdock
Armeria maritima Thrift
Artemisia maritima Sea wormwood
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort
Aster tripolium Sea Aster
Atriplex portulacoides Sea Purslane
Atriplex prostrata Spear-Leaved Orache
Ballota nigra Black Horehound
Bellis perennis Daisy
Berula erecta Lesser water parsnip
Beta vulgaris maritima Sea Beet
Calendula officinalis Pot Marigold
Calystegia sepium Hedge bindweed
Carduus nutans Musk Thistle
Centranthus ruber Red Valerian
Cerastium fontanum Common mouse ear
Cerastium glomeratum Sticky Mouse-Ear
Chelidonium majus Greater celandine
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Claytonia perfoliata Spring Beauty
Cochlearia anglica English Scurvygrass
Cochlearia danica Danish Scurvygrass
Conium maculatum Hemlock
Convolvulus arvensis Field Bindweed
Crambe maritima Sea-Kale
Crepis capillaris Smooth Hawk's-Beard
Crepis vesicaria Beaked Hawk's-Beard
Crithmum maritimum Rock Samphire
Daucus carota Wild carrot
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove
Dipsacus fullonum Wild Teasel
Echium vulgare Viper's Bugloss
Epilobium angustifolium Rosebay willowherb
Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
Equisetum arvense Common horsetail
Erodium cicutarium agg Common Stork's-Bill
Erophila verna Common Whitlowgrass
Galium aparine Cleavers
Galium verum Lady's Bedstraw
Geranium dissectum Cut-Leaved Crane's-Bill
Geranium molle Dove's-Foot Crane's-Bill
Geranium robertianum Herb-Robert
Geranium rotundifolium Round-Leaved Crane's-Bill
Glaucium flavum Yellow Horned Poppy
Glaux maritima Sea-Milkwort
Glechoma hederacea Ground-Ivy
Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed
Honckenya peploides Sea Sandwort
Hypochaeris radicata Common catsear
Inula crithmoides Golden samphire
Knautia arvensis Field Scabious
Lactuca serriola Prickly Lettuce
Lactuca virosa Greater Lettuce
Lamium album White Dead-Nettle
Lamium purpureum Red Dead-Nettle
Lathyrus japonicus Sea Pea
Lathyrus nissolia Grass Vetchling
Lathyrus pratensis Meadow vetchling
Lemna sp Duckweed sp
Lepidium campestre Field Pepperwort
Lepidium draba Hoary Cress
Lepidium latifolium Dittander
Leucanthemum vulgare Oxeye Daisy
Limonium vulgare Common Sea-Lavender
Linaria vulgaris Common toadflax
Lotus corniculatus Common Bird's-Foot-Trefoil
Lotus glaber Narrow-Leaved Bird's-Foot-Trefoil
Lupinus arboreus Tree Lupin
Malva sylvestris Common Mallow
Matricaria discoidea Pineapple weed
Medicago arabica Spotted Medick
Medicago lupulina Black Medick
Medicago minima Bur Medick
Melilotus albus White Melilot
Myosotis ramosissima Early Forget-Me-Not
Nasturtium officinale Water cress
Ophrys apifera Bee Orchid
Ornithogalum angustifolium Star-Of-Bethlehem
Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy
Parietalia officinalis Pellitory of the wall
Persicaria amphibia Amphibious bistort
Picris echioides Bristly Oxtongue
Pilosella officinarum Mouse-Ear-Hawkweed
Plantago coronopus Buck's-Horn Plantain
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Plantago major Greater Plantain
Plantago maritima Sea Plantain
Plantago media Hoary Plantain
Potentilla anserina Silverweed
Potentilla argentea Hoary Cinquefoil
Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil
Pteridium aquilinum Bracken
Pulicaria dysenterica Common fleabane
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Reseda luteola Weld
Rumex acetosella Sheep sorrel
Rumex conglomeratus Clustered dock
Rumex crispus Curled Dock
Rumex obtusifolius Broad-Leaved Dock
Salicornia europaea agg. Glasswort
Salvia verbenaca Wild clary
Saxifraga granulata Meadow Saxifrage
Sedum acre Biting Stonecrop
Sedum anglicum English Stonecrop
Senecio erucifolius Hoary ragwort
Senecio inaequidens Slender leaved ragwort
Senecio jacobaea Common Ragwort
Senecio vulgaris Groundsel
Seriphidium maritimum Sea Wormwood
Silene dioica Red Campion
Silene inaequidens Slender leaved ragwort
Silene latifolia White campion
Silene uniflora Sea Campion
Sisymbrium officinale Hedge Mustard
Smyrnium olusatrum Alexanders
Sonchus arvensis Perennial Sow-Thistle
Sonchus asper Prickly Sow-Thistle
Sonchus oleraceus Smooth Sow-Thistle
Spartina anglica Common Cord-Grass
Spergularia marina Lesser Sea-Spurrey
Stellaria media Common Chickweed
Suaeda maritima Annual Sea-Blite
Taraxacum officinale agg. Dandelion
Torilis japonica Upright hedge parsley
Torilis japonica Upright hedge parsley
Tragopogon pratensis minor Goat's-Beard
Trifolium arvense Hare's-Foot Clover
Trifolium campestre Hop Trefoil
Trifolium dubium Lesser Trefoil
Trifolium glomeratum Clustered Clover
Trifolium micranthum Slender Trefoil
Trifolium pratense Red Clover
Trifolium repens White Clover
Trifolium scabrum Rough Clover
Trifolium striatum Knotted Clover
Trifolium suffocatum Suffocated Clover
Triglochin maritimum Sea Arrowgrass
Tripleurospermum maritimum agg. Sea mayweed
Typha angustifolia Lesser reedmace
Urtica dioica Common Nettle
Valerianella locusta Common Cornsalad
Verbascum thapsis Great mullein
Verbascum pulverulentum Hoary mullein
Veronica arvensis Wall Speedwell
Veronica hederifolia hederifolia Ivy-Leaved Speedwell
Vicia hirsuta Hairy Tare
Vicia lathyroides Spring Vetch
Vicia lutea Yellow Vetch
Vicia sativa Common Vetch
Vicia sativa nigra Narrow-Leaved Vetch
Bryonia dioica White bryony
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Cytisus scoparius Broom
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn
Pyrus sp Pear sp
Rosa canina Dog rose
Rubus sp Blackberry sp
Ulex europaeus Gorse
Vulpia myuros
Ulmus sp Elm sp
Roadside trees and shrubs
Acer rubrum Red maple
Alnus cordata Italian alder
Alnus glutinosa Alder
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Hedera helix Ivy
Malus sp Apple sp
Pinus nigra ssp laricio Corsican pine
Prunus cerasifera Black flowering cherry
Sambucus nigra Elder
Agropyron pungens Sea couch
Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail
Arrhenatherum elatius False Oat-Grass
Aira caryophyllea Silver Hair-Grass
Aira praecox Early Hair-Grass
Anisantha sterilis Barren Brome
Bromus hordeaceus Soft-Brome
Cynosuros cristatus Crested dogstail
Dactylis glomerata Cocksfoot
Elymus repens Couch
Festuca arundinaceae Tall fescue
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire-Fog
Hordeum murinum Wall Barley
Hordeum secalinum Meadow barley
Koeleria macrantha Crested hair grass
Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-Grass
Phleum pratense Timothy
Phragmites australis Common Reed
Phalaris arundinaceae Reed canary grass
Poa annua Annual meadow grass
Poa pratensis Smooth Meadow-Grass
Poa trivialis Rough meadow grass
Trisetum flavescens Yellow Oat-Grass
Vulpia bromoides Squirrel tail fescue
Bolboschoenus maritimus Sea clubrush
Carex otrubae False fox sedge
Carex riparia Greater pond sedge
Juncus effusus Soft rush
Juncus gerardii Saltmarsh rush
Juncus maritimus Sea rush

The wild flowers of Shingle Street

Salty wind, sea and stones are what you get at Shingle Street, and lots of wild flowers. They are a hardy bunch of survivors, and superbly at home in the tough environment where land meets sea. Some live in the mud; others in shingle, grassland, on seawalls, in lagoons and some even manage to exist in the cracks in concrete. Summer at Shingle Street produces a palette of colours from seemingly impossible raw materials. Yellow, pink, white, red and deep blue: any gardener would be proud to have flowers as striking if they came from a garden centre, and a glance at the gardens of the cottages proves the point.
The plants flourish in their spectacularly hostile home. A beach can be frigidly cold, or baking hot. Tearing winds can desiccate leaves and loosen roots, whilst salt spray is a constant hazard. The plants need fresh water to survive, and rainwater that percolates through the shingle is absorbed at depth by the long taproots possessed by some shingle plants. Those same roots give the plants a solid anchorage in the loose shingle. Having found fresh water, it is vital the plants don’t lose it to the sun and wind through their leaves. Grey-green foliage, a covering of dense hairs or a wax-like surface are all ways in which shingle plants avoid losing moisture. With no shade or wind-breaking hedge or tree, these plants have adapted to their rigorous world as completely as an alpine plant clinging to an ice-sheathed rock ledge on Ben Nevis. Sea beet and sea kale form low hummock shapes that deflect the wind and help reduce water loss. Sea pea’s answer to stem snapping, desiccating gales is to lie prostrate on the shingle. Natural selection has equipped them all with what they need to survive.
In contrast to shingle beaches, saltmarshes are formed entirely from mud, covered by a layer of plants, and cut by a pattern of drainage creeks and channels. A healthy saltmarsh is usually covered with sea purslane, sea lavender, sea aster, sea arrowgrass, glasswort and several others. Their numbers can be immense, although the diversity of species is usually low. There are no trees or hedges to provide shade or protection from the wind, and they must survive searing summer sun and winter frosts. Salt is everywhere: it is lethal to most plants, but these plants have a degree of tolerance to it, and some have ways of ridding themselves of it. Sea lavender ‘sweats’ salt from its tissues – you can see salt crystals on the undersides of its leaves. As on the shingle beach, rainfall is the only fresh water available to these saltmarsh plants: the seeds of many of them can germinate only when dowsed with rain in the spring, in a brief springtime window when tides are low for several days.

Laurie Forsyth, Aug 1 2015

Shingle Street bird song

I’ve been keeping records of which birds are singing in which weeks for the last dozen or so years at Shingle Street and a clear pattern has emerged. I’m attaching a little chart illustrating this, which you could check to see what you should be particularly listening out for at any time of the year. I’ve only included those birds that sing regularly here and their usual song-periods. There are lots of exceptions involving birds just passing through, rare visitors or residents occasionally singing at untypical times. I have notes on all these if anyone is interested, but for the sake of simplicity have not incorporated them into this table.

Birds sing for two main reasons: first, to define and protect a territory, and second to attract a mate. So, the first of these is primarily aggressive and the second, well, seductive. You could therefore very crudely define the purpose of bird song as ‘f*** me or f*** off’. Birds sing rather than fight to resolve such disputes where possible (which may prompt a thought about the human alternatives …). The best singers get the best territories and are the ones most attractive to potential mates. This territorial function explains why some birds like robins and wrens, as you can see from the table, go on singing both before and after the breeding season (except for a short break mid-summer when they are moulting and lying low). They still need to hold on to territories to protect their food supply even when they are not using them to rear families. An interesting twist to this is that in just a few species, like robins, the females as well as the males sing in winter to defend territories, though when the breeding season starts and they pair up again you’ll only hear the males singing. In other species, like chaffinches and blackbirds, you’ll see that their singing is more strictly limited to the breeding season. These tend to be species that forage more widely in winter, sometimes in flocks, and don’t maintain individual territories then. In the case of summer visitors like the chiffchaff, cuckoo and swallow the song charts also indicate when you can first expect to hear them. So, you can learn quite a bit about different behaviour patterns from such data.

Learning bird song is also the best way of finding and identifying birds. Sounds travel over, round and through natural obstacles and you can usually hear far more birds than you can see, particularly if they are in bushes or a long way off. It isn’t so difficult to learn these songs and calls if you teach yourself one species at a time so that you can then pick its voice out against the background noise. Think how good we are at recognising someone’s voice on the phone even before they have announced themselves. I hope this chart may help in simplifying the possibilities, so you at least know what could be singing in any one week, and I’ll be happy to print copies off for anyone who’d like one to pin up somewhere as an aide mémoire. I’ll also be happy to walk around with you to get you started. This is the ideal season to begin.

Apart from anything else, bird song is beautiful to our ears. I notice that recordings of bird song are increasingly being played in hospitals to aid patient recovery and in airports to reduce the stress levels there. The BBC’s recent broadcasts of a ‘tweet of the day’ attracted a large, appreciative audience too, and Vaughan Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’ always seems to be voted the nation’s favourite piece of classical music. But in Shingle Street you can just go outside and hear the real thing for yourself.

Jeremy Mynott
26 April 2015


  January         February       March       April         May     June       July         August       September       October         November       December      
Week beginning 1 8 15 22 29 5 12 19 26 5 12 19 26 2 9 16 23 30 7 14 21 28 4 11 18 25 2 9 16 23 30 6 13 20 27 3 10 17 24 1 8 15 22 29 5 12 19 26 3 10 17 24
Song thrush                                                
Great tit                                                    
Blue tit                                                            
Collared dove              
Meadow pipit                                                                
Wood pigeon                        
Corn bunting                                                                
Stock dove                                              
Willow warbler                                                                                              
House martin                                                                                
Lesser w.throat                                                                                
Reed bunting        
Sedge warbler      
Reed warbler
Cetti’s warbler          



Shingle Street Flowers

by Lydia Vulliamy.    

Shingle Street is a magical place, right by the mouth of the River Ore. Typical shingle flora grow there in profusion. The great mounds of sea kale Crambe maritima predominate. The leaves die back in the winter; in spring the first shoots appear, very dark purple, crinkly and succulent. The plants fully grown are as big as shrubs, and their roots penetrate deep into the shingle.
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