Friday, 9 July 2010

Exploring Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve

I worked with a group of students on Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve, one of my Pupil Enrichment Programme session, for West Sussex County Council. The course started in a local school near the nature reserve allowing some classroom preparation.
We started by looking at how varied the Sussex Coastline is in regard to habitat types which include pebble beaches, sandy beaches, sand dunes, chalk cliff and wave cut platform and various coastal developments.

We looked at how the sea can create beaches (such as shingle spits like Shoreham) or erode coastline such as chalk cliffs. The pupils were provided two different scenarios to complete and predict what happens next, a shingle coast and a chalk cliff coast. After this we discussed how Shoreham Beach was formed by longshore drift and the flow of the River Adur.
We looked at how Shoreham Beach has played a major part in local maritime history – such as the port and ship building.
The students were given a selection of pebbles from the beach to identify and comment on their origins.
These included a large flint pebble, piece of flint from the South Downs, chalk, sea coal, a brown flint, a long shaped flint and quartzite.

Much of the day was spent investigating the local nature reserve. The students were divided into two groups and took turns in various activities.

This included a beach transect survey from the top of the beach to the shingle crest identifying and recording the numbers of each species present.
Group 1
Group 2
This helps to build up a profile of the plant communities.

Another activity involved students looking for adaptation features that different shingle plants use to survive in this harsh habitat, from a list provided.
Once they had found a plant with the adaptation, they then used identification guides to identify the actual plant.

Two separate animal surveys took place, one to record generally the birds, lizards and invertebrates that visit the shingle plant habitat.
House sparrows
Wall lizard

The second focusing on recording three types of bee, to also discover which plant species they favour.
Two banded white-tailed bumble bee on silver ragwort.

We finished the day back at the school with a recap of what we had done, what they had discovered and a general round up and a chance for final questions.

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