The shingle beach at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is part of the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC) - click here for detail. The most significant plant of the designated habitat "Annual vegetation of drift lines" is Babington’s Orache a low growing plant that has a precarious lifestyle, growing in the mobile shingle below the line of the winter storms. It has variable success and this year there are few plants, but they are seeding well.
The ripe seed is black and drops off the plant into the spaces between the flint pebbles and is moved around by winter storms.
The seed capsule resembles a bird's head. It has a corky texture and floats on the waves to find a new home.
Inside the capsule is the small seed that only has a very small chance of finding a new home, so large numbers of seed are produced by each plant. In good years the plant can be abundant, forming a green haze along the strandline which can attract seed eating birds like Snow Bunting. Photo below is from a "good" year 2014.