North Dock Dunes
Protected because it is a rare sand dune habitat with a high diversity of specialist plants and animals. The plants and animals that live in the dunes are specially adapted to withstand the harsh conditions. In summer the dunes are hot and dry whilst in winter they are windblown with a salty sea spray.
Colourful plants adorn the dune grassland in spring such as lady’s bedstraw, cat’s-ear, wild pansy and the parasitic common broomrape while sea holly and greater knapweed occur on broken ground. The specialist invertebrate life of the dunes contains species that are more commonly associated with warmer climates further south, for example, the ‘sand hill snail’ originates in the Mediterranean and here is at the most northerly point in its world distribution. In summer many can be seen clinging to plant stems to avoid the hot sand.