T 1,400 ACRES, CHOBHAM
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.