Maori Invaders in Northumberland

Some alien species have become embraced into our countryside; the Little Owl and the Horse Chestnut for instance. They are now almost quintessentially British. Others are a constant threat to our own wildlife. I seem to receive e-mail after e-mail from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership telling me Himalayan Balsam in the broads is rampant. Indeed as I was waiting yesterday for guests that were staying in a river fronted property, I noticed the whole of the garden was overrun with it!

At the weekend, on the Farne Islands Tour we called at Holy Island on the coast of Northumberland; a marvelous place of ruins, racing tides and rolling dune slacks. The place is steeped in history and intrigue; invaders of various nationalities have played their part in shaping that history over the centuries.

The latest invaders are from New Zealand. As we walked through the dunes they attacked us in numbers. Brought to the UK within sheep’s wool the prolific nature of The Pirri Pirri Bur soon became apparent. For what seemed like an age we were picking the seeds from our boots, socks and trousers to which they clung with vigour. Although I have already seen this invader in Norfolk on Kelling Heath we didn’t want to add to its distribution.

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Jul 2012


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