Heathland wildlife

Within this rather hostile landscape plenty of highly adapted wildlife thrives. Bees, wasps and butterflies are plentiful. A couple of rare species to look out for are the potter wasp and the silver-studded blue butterfly. The heath also makes an ideal hunting ground for many of the UK’s spiders, with over 30% of British spider species found at Iping and Stedham Common nature reserve alone.

Reptiles also enjoy the open heathland habitat – in fact heathland supports all six of the native British species of reptile.

Certain bird species also depend on this landscape for their survival. Woodlarks nest in the bare, sandy patches and the Dartford warbler, now almost lost in Britain, can’t survive here without this particular landscape. On an early summer’s evening you may be lucky enough to hear a nightjar’s churring call or see a woodcock in full display flight. Other birds that have made the heathland their home include the colourful redstart, the stonechat and the hobby.

If there are wetter areas or an acid pond present, you will certainly see a number of dragonflies and damselflies skimming the surface in the warmer months. Less common species to look out for include golden-ringed dragonfly, black-tailed skimmer and the extremely rare small red damselfly. In wetter areas you may also find some interesting plants– the insectivorous sundew with its sticky red leaves and the very rare marsh clubmoss.

Several reintroduction programmes have taken place on Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves, including Field Crickets and Heath Tiger Beetles. The success of maintaining these reintroduced populations of once locally extinct species, is to provide continuous suitable habitat before and after reintroduction.