Sunset with Birds over Ludshott
Six intrepid members of Haslemere Natural History Society gathered in a rainstorm at 8 p.m. on Ludshott Common waiting to be guided by National Trust Ranger, Jim Avenall. Just before he arrived a rainbow appeared over the pines, followed by clear skies and an amazingly light evening with a colourful sunset.
Walking round, Jim explained that the Common of 705 acres is an SSSI and a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds and its wildlife. He said that commoners’ rights – to graze cattle and swine, collection of heather, gorse, wood, bracken and grasses for fuel and winter bedding – created the open heathland that exists today.
Around 25% of the Common is now mixed woodland. The remaining area has to be managed to provide the heathland for ground nesting birds: Nightjar, Woodcock, Pipits (tree and wood) and Dartford Warbler, which likes some gorse cover; plus reptiles such as Adders and rare Sand Lizards, together with low heather favoured by Silver Studded Blue butterflies.
As the sun started to set, members saw a number of Woodcock fly over, and listened to the sound of several male Nightjars churring all around, with three fleeting sightings. It is thought that there are at least five pairs on the Common this year. Whilst walking round the Common, there were two sightings of male Roe Deer (both with antlers) observing the group, one giving its coughing bark. Members heard and saw a melodious Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Buzzard being mobbed, several Crows, some bats (probably Pipistrelles), and a Tawny Owl.
Having returned to the car park around 10.30 by torchlight, Jim Avenall was thanked for sharing his practical knowledge, the group was very satisfied with all that had been learnt and seen, and particularly grateful for the change of weather to such a beautiful sunny evening
The event took place on 1st July and was part of a series organised by HNHS to raise awareness and appreciation of wildlife.