What is vegetated shingle?
Shingle beaches are made up of different sized pebbles, are subject to strong winds and waves, and are constantly shifting. Most shingle beaches are not stable enough to support vegetation and are extremely nutrient poor as any organic matter is quickly washed away. However, some beaches in more sheltered locations are eventually able to support highly specialised plants, and through the process of succession (species living in an area gradually changing over time as the environmental conditions change), we get vegetated shingle. Examples can be found at Hook Spit, Browndown (which is of national conservation importance for its rare vegetation and invertebrates), Hurst Spit, Sinah Common (Hayling Island), West Wittering dunes and East Head spit, and Thorness Bay and Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight.
How does vegetated shingle form?
Waves continuously push the shingle further up the beach until eventually ridges form that are out of the water’s reach. In this more sheltered area, sand and other matter begins to accumulate and starts retaining a little water.