Image

ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

Uncommon Beauty

ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

I spent much of my birthday on Thursday at Thursley Common NNR, near Elstead in Surrey. I went in search of dartford warblers, curlew and lizards. The lizards managed to evade me, although other visitors did spot a couple on the boardwalk when the sun  came out! The curlew flew over me twice which was a treat to see and I found my dartford warblers at the far end of the boardwalk, near the dragonfly sculpture. Other signtings included stonechat, chiffchaff, goldfinch, redpoll, great and blue tits, greylag geese, mallard, wren and a bit of smoke on the horizon.

After the recent, devastating wildfire on Chobham Common, the sight of smoke on our heathland is a bit worrying! It was soon apparent that this was a small contained fire, most likely where the ranger was doing some land management. 325 hectare of woodland, peat bogs, heathland, ponds and ditches is a huge area to manage so the ranger, James Giles, organises volunteer workparties to maintain this precious resource. The wispy smoke created a atmospheric haze through the distant pines. Once I knew it wasn’t a concern, I was able to sit back in my wheelchair and marvel in it’s uncommon beauty.

Dartford Warber

Image

Living Lawnmowers

Living Lawnmowers at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre

Living Lawnmowers

I went for a short walk with the hubby at Heather Farm yesterday to capture the fabulous skies over the Autumnal landscape for today’s Fotospeed challenge. I actually ended up with added extras to the scene that I had had in mind! The Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS) is based at the Heather Farm Wetland Centre near Woking in Surrey. You can see the building that they use, alongside the cafe, at the back of the landscape within my photo. The Society’s landholdings include 916 acres of high forest, woodland, meadows and lowland heath that form a part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Heather Farm riverside meadows and wetlands were developed as a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace), which provides a less fragile landscape for people to enjoy walking through. Part of the site is now a much loved dog walking route. Dogs also receive a warm welcome, water, biscuits and towels at the Water’s Edge cafe! Owners are being asked to be extra careful with their four-legged friends at the moment. Within the fenced-off wetland area, Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep are grazing the grasslands as part of the natural land management and conservation work done by HCPS. Larger areas of grassland within the common are grazed by Aberdeen Angus cattle. These living lawnmowers are the most natural, environmentally friendly way to manage grasses and scrub, maintaining the habitat for a large variety of wildlife. They’re also really very attractive sheep to see! On Saturday the ewes got to meet a rather important new member of this little flock. His name is Hector and you can see him just off-centre in my image. Once all the ewes have fallen pregnant this winter, the farmer who owns them will collect them from the site, so they can lamb safely in the Spring. For now they seem to be greatly enjoying their job and visitors are definitely enjoying them!