T 1,400 ACRES, CHOBHAM

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PAUL TRODD

ACom­mon is the largest Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve in the south-east of Eng­land and one of the finest ex­am­ples of low­land heath in the coun­try. Scat­tered birches and Scot`s pine with patches of bracken amongst the heather, ad­ja­cent mixed wood­land and boggy ar­eas, such as Gra­cious Pond be­low Sta­ple Hill, com­bine to form a rich mo­saic of habi­tats for a va­ri­ety of spe­cialised flora and fauna. In­evitably, bird­watch­ers will be at­tracted to the likes of Dart­ford War­bler, Wood Lark, Night­jar and Hobby, which are present in small num­bers, and there is a good sup­port­ing cast of de­clin­ing mi­grants, such as Willow War­bler and even one or two Com­mon Red­starts. Yel­lowham­mer and Lin­net should also be cher­ished as they too are be­com­ing scarcer in the wider coun­try­side. The sheer range of bio­di­ver­sity on this old heath is breath­tak­ing and a mid-sum­mer walk should yield a won­der­ful set of scarce plants to com­ple­ment the birds, such as or­chids and in­secteat­ing sun­dews among the spec­ta­cle of pink-flow­er­ing ling and heather. Chobham is also a top site for spi­ders and in­sects with more than 30 species of but­ter­flies recorded. These in­clude the rare Sil­ver-stud­ded Blue, along with 20 plus species of drag­on­flies around the pools, the most no­table be­ing the gor­geous Golden-ringed Drag­on­fly. Slow worm, adder, Grass Snake, Com­mon and Sand Lizard can also all be seen. Open heathland at­tracts a few pairs of Wood Lark, Tree Pipit and Sky Lark. At dusk, Night­jar and Wood­cock are ac­tive with Hobby and Green Wood­pecker dur­ing the day.

3Wood­land birds here in­clude Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Great Spot­ted Wood­pecker, Lesser Red­poll, Black­cap and Chif­fchaff. An­other good spot to check for Wood Lark, Tree Pipit and Dart­ford War­bler, plus Night­jar, Tawny Owl and Wood­cock at ei­ther dawn or dusk.

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