Blyth to Seaton Sluice Dunes LNR
Grid Ref: NZ 325 782
This 3Km stretch of rare and fragile habitat was declared a Local Nature Reserve by Blyth Valley Borough Council in December 2003; the site is also an area of Special Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). It is a valued neighbourhood resource, widely used by the public for a range of recreational uses. However, the effects of trampling, recreation and nature have opened up blow out areas on the seaward side. The fore dunes are predominately marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) & lyme grass (Leymus arenarius), which stabilise the dunes. This gradually changes to one dominated by marram and other herbaceous plants, to a stabilised landward zone including woody species such as hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and burnet rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia). The dunes boast a diverse and interesting flora, boasting over 170 species of plants.
However, itís not just the plants that make it such a special site, the dune system is considered to support one of the best selections of butterflies and moths for this type of habitat in the South of Northumberland. There are several important species, which have been highlighted by Dr J.Parrack of Seaton Sluice in his book on the moths and butterflies of the area. These include the small form of the coastal dart (Euxoa cursoria), the lyme grass moth (Photedes elymi) and the small elephant hawk moth (Deilephila porcellus). Sightings of the grayling butterfly (Hipparchia semele) have also been reported.
The dunes are also home to a good variety of birds, large numbers of goldcrests (Regulus regulus) can be seen during October and there is a vast starling (Sturnus vulgaris) population in the harbour. Good numbers of skylarks (Alauda arvensis) and meadow pipits (Anthus pratensis) are also seen within the dunes. Song thrushes (Turdus philomelos) are also found here feeding on the large numbers of snails, which inhabit the dunes.
Blyth to Seaton Sluice links is one of only two sites on the British coastline to have both banded land snails, Cepaea nemoralis and Cepaea hortensis, living side by side, as generally the two do not coexist on dunes, due to competition for resources. Although rather unassuming creatures to the untrained eye, Cepaea are well known to biologists, as each snail exhibits a large variation in individual appearance (known as polymorphism).
The Local Nature Reserve now has its own Friends of group, called the Links Conservation Group (Blyth to Seaton Sluice), who are already active in tackling many of the sites problems.