Field Reports

Monday 17 June 2019 at Iping Common

Leader Helen Dignum

15 members joined Helen Dignum for this heathland walk. The past weather had been very unseasonal and the breeze still had a cold edge to it. However, we had a dry day, mainly cloudy, but, with bursts of sunshine. Included in her welcome, Helen gave us an informative talk on lowland heaths which are restricted to the south of England and Europe. We have about 20% of the total, so they are a rare and fragile habitat and only occur up to 250 metres.

In the car park we heard Robin, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker and we saw a Buzzard. On our way down to a pond  we passed a Woods Ants nest. They were busy building what could be a substantial structure of up to 1 metre high and 2 metres wide. Nothing was seen in or around the pond.  However grazing cattle had access and that probably did not help. Further along, and crossing our path was a Slowworm. The writer picked it up for all to have a closer look. It was quite content in my hand. Perhaps my hand was warmer than the ground.

As we moved on we heard Whitethroat and Yellow Hammer, four Swallows passed over and we saw a Red Kite in the distance. As we approached more mature woodland a Blackbird and Song Thrush were singing and a Buzzard passed over. A Spider with an egg sac passed over a Wood Ants nest at very high speed. We passed a plant called Common Catsear. Small birds, probably Tits were feeding in the tall pines, but against the strong light identification was difficult, but a calling Blue Tit was noted.

A high point on the heath revealed an area that was accidently burnt in February 2018. The regrowth was very evident. Heath Bedstraw, Woodsage and  Heath Speedwell were nice to see. Blue Butterflies darting around during our walk had caused identification problems. However, an enterprising member caught a specimen and it was confirmed that they were Silver Studded Blues.

Our next contacts were Chiff Chaff, Goldfinch, Great Tit and a Carrion Crow.

A highlight of the walk came in the shape of 2 males and a female Yellowhammer feeding in some short grass. The yellow of the male’s head shone in the sunlight. On the way back to the car park we examined a tiny plant called simply Birdsfoot. In the car park was a large Blackberry  well in flower. It attracted Green Hairstreak and Speckled Wood Butterflies, together with Common Carder, Buff Tailed and Tree Bumble Bees. Very many thanks to Helen for leading us on a most instructive and enjoyable walk with our friends.

Jim Bagley


Yellowhammers in the grass

The Silver-Studded Blue

The group hears about lowland heath

Bell Heather

Another Yellowhammer in last year's burnt gorse.

Chichester, West Sussex

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