in trees. The Grazing marsh is probably the most important within area as this is the most threatened and provides a breeding area for such ground nesting species as Lapwing, Vanellus vanellus. It is also important for species of bird that over winter here such as Short Eared Owl, Asio flammeus, the area is also important for many species of Wildfowl and Waders when flooded in winter. It is also important as a hunting area for the Marsh Harriers, Circus aeruginosus, that breed in the Hamford water national nature reserve. It is also good for Skylarks, Alauda arvensis, a nationally declining species.
The main threats to the lower lying areas of the Farmland are from Sea level rise and Global warming and the sea wall being breached because of tidal surge. The only way to prevent this would be to increase the height of the wall, this was done about twenty years ago with a concrete apron but whether this would be strong enough is up for debate, also there are gaps in the apron due to disrepair. Also the government and various Government
agencies now prefer managed retreat, which in effect means either doing nothing if the wall is breached or
deliberately breaching the wall to create new salt marsh in some areas. At the Naze this is not really an option as at the Northern end of the Naze is a large sewerage treatment works, the pumps of which are under ground and if this was to flood it would be catastrophic for Walton and the surrounding area. But we have recently heard they may be going to breach the seawall.
SALTMARSH AND SAND-DUNES:
These are the most threatened habitats on the Naze and throughout the country as a whole, The Hamford water National nature reserve of about 7,000 acres consists mostly of saltmarsh, one of the largest areas of saltmarsh left in East Anglia. Within the reserve are a number of islands the largest of which Horsey is still a working farm the rest of them are either local nature reserves or are owned by local wildfowlers. Most of the rest of the area is saltmarsh an ecologically scarce and important habitat having many scarce and local species living and breeding on it. Starting with the insects the rarest and most important is the endemic Fishers Estuarine moth, Gortyna borelii. This species is most at risk simply because the larvae or caterpillars are internal feeders on the stems of the Sea Hogs-fennel, Peucadanum officinale. And this species only grows in the wild in the Hamford water national nature reserve and at one site on the north Kent coast near Faversham. The largest concentration of plants is on the low lying Skippers Island Nature reserve owned and maintained by the Essex Wildlife Trust, with sea level rise this could all but disappear within the next thirty years Also found here is the Ground Lackey moth, Malacosoma
castrensis,this is a ground living species that is confined in Britain to Saltmarshes on the east coast as far north as Norfolk and along the south coast, it feeds in tented colonies and although it can withstand immersion in salt
water for short periods it is very susceptible to sea level rise. another scarce species of insect found in the area is the small ground beetle the Saltmarsh shortspur Anisodactylus poeciloides this is only known from two or three sites in Essex, at the Naze it has been found around the two lagoons in front of the Tamarisk seawall next to the John Weston nature reserve. Sadly this site is subject to so much erosion it is highly unlikely the species will
survive as the lagoons will probably disappear within the next five to ten years, hopefully it is also to be found elsewhere within the Hamford water national nature reserve.
A rare spider found throughout the saltmarsh is a small wolf spider called Psuedeuophrys obsoleta, this species is only known from two or three sites in Essex and is severely threatened in status. Another rare spider found on
seawalls in the area is the Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, this species has only been known in Britain since being found at Rye in Sussex in 1922.
Of the birds that breed within the area we have some nationally and internationally rare species probably the most important is the Little tern, Sterna albifrons, this species has virtually disappeared though habitat destruction, most suitable beaches have been taken for recreational Purposes, so the colony in the backwaters is one of great importance if this species is to survive. The backwaters are also home to a substantial colony of Avocets, only twenty years ago you would have to go to either Minsmere or Havergate island in Suffolk now it is found as a breeding species all down the east coast from Lincolnshire through to Sussex and beyond. Another nationally
important species found breeding here is the Marsh Harrier, Circus aeruginosus, we have up to four nests most years.
Most of the birds the Hamford water nature reserve and Naze are really important for are the vast number of over wintering Wildfowl and Waders, most of these come here from the far north some such as the Brent Geese, Branta bernicula only fifty years ago were virtually extinct but now can be seen in large flocks both on the backwaters on the surrounding fields and even on the Naze beach from October through to March. We also get large flocks of Golden plover, Pluvialis apricaria and large flocks of Dunlin, Calidris alpina over wintering in the area.
Many Salt marsh and Sand dune plants are rare or very localized some such as the Shrubby Seablite, Suaeda vera are at the most northerly point of their range in East Anglia other species such as Rock Samphire, Crithmum
maritimum are extremely rare and normally found on rocky cliffs. Another species at the northern most part of its range is the highly aromatic Sea Wormwood, Artemesia maritima. Like all the other habitats at the Naze the Salt marsh and Sand dunes are under threat from both human disturbance and natural problems such as sea level rise and erosion the only way of saving this habitat in the long term is for mankind to get greenhouse gases under
control, the only other way of conserving Salt marsh is to create new areas of Salt marsh by allowing the sea into areas that we are currently farming such has been done near Tollesbury and on Wallasea island near Foulness.
The cliffs at the Naze form a very special habitat, with many rare and local species found there. Because they are always moving you get many plant species that are found on disturbed ground such as the common fumitory.
Another plant found growing on the cliff, this time because of the permanently wet areas is the Greater Willow herb.
One of the joys at the Naze in Summer is watching the sand Martins hawking for insects along the cliff top, once again this would not be possible without the constantly falling cliff, as they breed in nest burrows in the soft sandy cliff face, also the cliffs are very important for many different insect species, and The small ponds are important for Newts. The cliff overall is important for reptiles such as the Common Lizard and the Grass Snake.