Natural History of Bexhill

The Bexhill area has a number of diverse wildlife habitats. These can be divided into, broadly, 5 categories determined by the underlying geology, climatic variations and the influence of humans. Each habitat has characteristic flora and fauna species as described below:

Coastal Enviroment

The area is characterised by dynamic natural shingle beaches, bordered on the west by the outcrop of Ashdown Sands that forms Galley Hill and at the eastern fringe there is the start of the wetland habitat of Pevensey Levels. Coastal defences and threaten the area as does the encroaching development that increases the instability and profile of the beaches. Compared to the exposed sands and mudflats of low tide the shingle is relatively nutrient and species poor.

Birds -the following species occur regularly:

spring/summer:

sanderling, ring plover, oystercatcher,  dunlin,  redshank,  turnstone, little-ringed plover,  knot,  herring gull,  black-headed gull, common gull, little gull, gannet, cormorant, grey heron,  mute swan,  Mediterranean gull, common tern, little tern, black tern,

autumn/winter:

knot, lapwing, purple sandpiper, oystercatcher, dunlin, bar-tailed godwit, turnstone, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, greater black-backed gull,

Passage migrant:

ring plover, grey plover, dunlin, whimbrel, turnstone, little gull, sandwich tern [Summer]

Offshore:

Arctic skua, kittiwake, guillemot, auk species, fulmar,

Mammals – occasional sightings:

porpoise, dolphin, bottle-nosed whale.

Flora:

Sea-kale, thrift, yellow-horned poppy

Woodland

Two areas of woodland in the Bexhill area are Gillham Wood and Highwoods.

Highwoods: Evidence of Ancient Woodland are still to be found at Highwoods, namely in the hornbeam, and the more unusual oak, coppice stands. Flora & fauna to be found include the following:

Amphibians & Reptiles:

  • Anguis fragilis (slow worm)
  • Bufo bufo (common toad)
  • Natrix natrix (grass snake)
  • Rana temporaria (common frog)
  • Triturus vulgaris (smooth newt)
  • Vipera berus (adder)

Birds:

  • Carduelis flammea (redpoll)
  • Accipter nisus (sparrowhawk)
  • Aegithalos caudatus (long-tailed tit)
  • Alauda arvensis (skylark)
  • Apus apus (swift)

Wetlands

Pevensey Levels, Coombe Haven At the hinterland of Bexhill, there are two major wetlands that lie in the broad valley and flood plains of rivers. To the west is Pevensey Levels and to the east is Coombe Haven. Both support a wide range of wetland flora & fauna, many of which are not found elsewhere. The systems of wet meadow, marsh and ditch are an important feature of the rural Sussex scene. In summer, cattle graze the wet pastures & plant and invertebrate life thrives. In winter the valley bottoms often flood, enriching the soil in nutrients carried down by the river. The resultant wet, marshy grassland is of major importance to birds that either pass through on migration or stay to breed.

Pevensey Levels is an area of grazing marsh that is of national importance.

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