Restharrow Dunes and Gullies

This area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is protected and managed for wildlife purposes. It is comprised of duneland and three different gullies. There are three gullies (Waldershare, Little and Big) which were all originally part of the Haven Cut. The duneland field is mainly dominated by Marram Grass but contains many interesting wildflower species. The Gullies are lower lying and much damper with lots of Willow, Reed, and Yellow Iris.

Find Restharrow Dunes and the Gullies on our Reserves map HERE.

During the spring you may come across early butterfly species, such as the Peacock, nectaring on the spring blossom in the gullies. A colourful flash of red may reveal a passing Redstart flitting from bush to bush and you can find hosts of migrating warblers such as Blackcaps and Whitethroats. Make sure to look out for patrolling Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers. Within the fields look out for Stoats and Weasels, Grey Partridge, and flocks of Linnets.

In summer key flora species to spot include Southern Marsh Orchids, Common Twayblade, Adder’s Tongue Fern, and Marsh Helleborine. Large Skipper butterflies and Variable Damselflies are key invertebrates to look for here. Also be on the look out for reptiles such as the Slow Worm and Grass Snake under the habitat mats. The Duneland Gorse begins to flower and here you can often find Corn Buntings and Clouded Yellow butterflies.

In autumn, Whinchat and Black Redstart can be found on bushes and fence posts. The Gullies can be good for Common Darter and Ruddy Darter dragonflies, Vapourer moth, and Gatekeeper butterfly, among many invertebrate delights. It is one of the best areas to look for migrant warblers with Grasshopper, Garden, Willow, and Wood all possible at this time.

During winter there is grazing livestock in the dune which controls the more common, dominant plant species allowing less competitive plants to thrive. Short-eared Owls and Stonechats are great to find over the fields while isolated patches of Gorse sometimes provide a winter habitat for the rare Dartford Warbler. The fragmented copses in the Gullies offer foraging opportunities to winter Thrushes, Jays and Woodpeckers. It is often a good spot for over-wintering Chiffchaffs.

Short-eared Owl by Tony Flashman