Christopher Somerville

Collins Where to See Wildlife in Britain and Ireland: Over 800 Best Wildlife Sites in the British Isles

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    Laura Shas quoted5 years ago
    Between Crawley and Leatherhead, not too far outside the boundaries of Greater London, Hammond’s Copse is a piece of ancient woodland, its antiquity indicated by the guelder rose’s broad cluster of white flowers and the wild service tree with its five-fingered leaf. A good network of paths and marked trails leads you by woodland ponds and through clearings where on sunny summer days you
    Laura Shas quoted5 years ago
    Here are over 100 bird species – barn owls after voles, little deadly looking hobbies hawking dragonflies over the ponds, male nightjars sending out their churring territorial calls on summer evenings, the rare and shy Dartford warbler with its distinctive red eyes and fluffy grey hood. I
    Laura Shas quoted5 years ago
    The wide tracts of heath lying southwest of London, of which the common was a part, were a notorious haunt of footpads and highwaymen in the eighteenth century when Daniel Defoe condemned them as ‘horrid and frightful to look upon, not only good for little, but good for nothing’.
    Times and perceptions change, and today the 1,250-acre (500 ha)
    Laura Shas quoted5 years ago
    In high summer the rush-fringed boggy parts show heath spotted orchids with faintly spotted pale pink flowers streaked with purple. You can also find lesser butterfly orchids with loose spikes of green-white flowers that give off a sweet scent. Marsh St John’s wort trails its round grey-green leaves and cup-shaped yellow petals along the edges of the pools.
    Birds that hunt the moor include the ghostly white hen harrier and the little hobby that snatches dragonflies on the wing. Nightjars nest here in open patches of drier ground, hunting moths in the dusk. And the lovely marsh fritillary butterfly, its wings a mosaic of orange, grey and white, can be seen from May to July near its foodplant, the powder-blue buttons of devil’s-bit scabious.
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