Take a dune safari and unlock the secrets of Camber’s sands
It’s that combination of native plants and fences that stops the dunes from shifting inland and burying Dunescape and the rest of Camber village.
Dunes have their own distinct eco system, and the plants and animals found here have adapted to living in sands that constantly shift, where rainwater soaks quickly down into the earth, and salt is driven in on the wind.
So while on a bright summer’s day it’s glorious on the dunes, this can be an arid, windswept, salt-scorched place.
But there is plenty of wildlife to be found, and flora to spot: over 250 different species of plants and animals. So it’s a great place for a sand-dune safari with the kids.
But take care, because while the wildlife is well adapted to life on the sands, much of it can’t survive elsewhere, and some of it is getting rare.
The eco-system works like this – the grasses and other tough plants stabilise the sands and protect the more delicate plants. The plants attract insects that find sustenance, lay their eggs or collect nectar from the flowers. The insects get eaten by spiders, birds and the common lizards (above) that live here.
Here are some of the things you might spot on the dunes
Look out for the brown tail moth (left) that lives on the sea buckthorn (right) – a spiky bush with blue-toned leaves. Cuckoos eat the moths – no other birds will touch them because of the long hairs that cover the moth’s body. Those hairs can give you a rash if you touch them, so keep your distance.
Here are four plants you may spot:
The common lizard is a small, shy reptile that feeds on insects. You may see them darting between the plants or, if they don’t spot you coming, sunbathing on the hot sand.
Here are some things you might find down on the beach, especially at low tide
Those clusters of dry, off-white spheres (above) are the cases of whelk’s eggs.
The black hard cases that look a bit like a stag-beetle’s antenna are actually skate’s egg cases, and are sometimes called Mermaid’s Purse.
Then there are the shells.
The big fan-shaped ones like the Shell petrol logo are scallops.
The long straight ones are razor shells.
There are loads of others – muscles, cockles, winkles, oysters. You’ll find a full guide here
One thing to be wary of is the Weever fish (above), which lives on the sandy sea bed.
When the tide goes out, it buries itself in the sand, but the ridge of sharp spikes across its back sometimes protrudes. If you tread on a Weever fish when paddling, the spikes can give you a nasty sting. If you do get stung, you will need to seek first aid.