Shorelines that shift from year to year, shunted and shaped by floods and rains
And array of different trees and other plants that changes as you move from water’s edge to woodland core.
Calls of wading birds such as oystercatcher and common sandpiper
Many different kinds of insects and spiders, using everything from bare shingle to grassy woodland floor
That’s part of the picture for the ‘alluvial woods’ (JNCC link) on the Shingle Islands in the Core Forest project. This is a type of woodland where alder and several willow species can be the commonest trees, but there is a great range of tree and plant cover and types between the wettest and the driest areas.
Because it grows in flood plans on islands or in low-lying wetlands beside river channels, this kind of alder-and-willow-rich woodland can often change. The build-up of gravel banks, erosion of channels and shores or the slow stabilisation of ground away from the water as trees take hold can all alter the conditions for vegetation.
Wild and wet
So the biodiversity value of this wet woodland is huge. Alluvial woods have been reduced through agriculture and the expansion of settlements in Europe, and eliminated by clearance of riverside woodlands across most of the UK. So the Shingle Islands play a special part in the Core Forest work, as an important refuge for a once much more widespread woodland type and its wildlife.