Dawlish Warren

 

The Habitats

 

The following short resume can in no way reflect the complexities of the habitats here (a detailed description will hopefully appear here later or can be obtained from the Visitor Centre) but an indication of their wildlife value can be described numerically; the site supports over 2000 spp of invertebrates, 620 plants and 250 fungi of which many are National Rarities and some species were even new to science when discovered here.  Its gradations of rare habitats are also of regional significance; it is the second most important reserve in Devon, after Braunton Burrows.

 

Langstone Rock at the southwestern corner of the site is a 15m high New Red Sandstone megalith, a distinctive local geographical landmark, very distinct from the spit which extends NE from it.  The base of the spit has largely suffered from tourism development and a ‘hard-engineered’ sea defence scheme but the remainder of the spit is semi-natural.  The depressed central zone of the spit becomes flooded in winter, it supports part willow-birch-alder Salix-Betula-Alnus scrubland with ponds, small areas of dune slack and marshy grassland.

 

The majority of the Outer Warren is a mosaic of semi-fixed dune grassland and bramble Rubus agg. scrub with a seaward mobile dune ridge, these two habitats are closely linked on Warren Point.  The sandy, gravely beach and intertidal banks, which stretch over a mile out to sea, are in a constant state of flux with rapid rates of creation and erosion.  The Inner Warren has historically been stable and supports fixed-dune grassland, strips of gorse Ulex europaeus and dune heathland within the golf course roughs; here there is also a small copse of Turkey oak Quercus cerris.  Planted in 1935, the estuarine side of the spit supports an area of Cordgrass Spartina saltmarsh and thereafter are large expanses of estuarine mudflats.  The Bight is a shallow bay enclosed by Warren Neck supporting a glasswort Salicornia spp. Community, with increasing areas of saltmarsh.

 

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