#WildEssexWalks: Harwich Foreshore and Beach

Lovely sunshine greeted us when we all assembled on Harwich Halfpenny Pier this morning.  This was the first time we had organised an outing to Harwich and hope that everyone enjoyed as much as we did.

We wandered from the Halfpenny Pier, via the sandy beach near the New Bell pub, right along the foreshore as far as the Low Lighthouse. From then on we followed the promenade as far as the Banksy spraycation (?) mural at Stone Point, where Harwich turns into Dovercourt.

So what did we see?

Birdlife – Sandwich Terns ( including one being harried by a Herring Gull), Little Egret, Turnstones, Oystercatchers and the ubiquitous gulls.

Plants – some specialities of coastal areas, most of which are very uncommon given that their habitat is restricted to a thin sliver where the sea meets the land: Sea Rocket, Rock Samphire, Prickly Saltwort, Sea Holly, Sea Spurge and more…

… along with the rather less welcome invasive Japanese Rose, starting to colonise the low dunes.

Insects – not many, just the occasional butterfly and Meadow Grasshopper, but also a rather interesting (and rare) fly – Dune Villa.

Products of the Sea – shells were discussed, with particular reference to Oysters, from former abundance to severe decline, but now hope in the form of the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Inititative; and fossils, especially sharks’ teeth. One of our group found one in the morning, but later in the day we (plus Chris’ family over from Germany) spent some time looking and each found one. So worth looking for next time you visit Harwich beach.  Lots of seaweeds but these will be a topic of a future walk.

Geology – the Harwich Stone Band (not a pop group), which defines Harwich as the only natural rocky shore in Essex. The band formed from an ash layer from volcanoes 50 million years ago which settled in that area and became compacted to form a layer of rock.

Other life – the tail of a Common Lizard seen disappearing into the undergrowth and these two in their rather groovy new tee shirts!