Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back in my Natural Habitat...

A warm sunny afternoon last week tempted me away from my computer (I didn’t take much persuading!) for a wander upon Iping Common, a local area of Lowland Heath. The heathland is by far at its best at this time of year – purple, gold and green, shimmering in the summer sun reflected off the sand.

As I walked the sandy tracks, the heather hummed with nectaring bees and a darting lizard appeared briefly on the path before disappearing between the woody stems. A light breeze whispered in the birches and swayed the tall bracken fronds. Grasshoppers and crickets sprang from the vegetation, and a new species for me; the Green Tiger Beetle, a ferocious heathland predator, scurried across the sun-baked ground before taking flight in a metallic green blur. I had heard of these creatures before but this was the first time I had come face to face with one! They may be small but they are certainly impressive!

I stood for a moment studying some recent management work – sections cut through the heather, the plants only a few inches high and with plenty of fresh new growth, in contrast with the large mature woody and dry heather plants nearby. These sweeping areas look like they should be brilliant for Silver Studded Blue Butterflies next year, as these tiny butterflies need this short fresh growth. I must remember to return to this spot in June.

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