Some Flowers in Headley

THE NATURAL WORLD IN HEADLEY

A brief description of the varied geology, flora and fauna of the village.

Geology

Headley is situated on the dip slope of the North Downs and has soils both acid and alkaline in nature. The Heath, as the name implies, is acid lowland heath and is interesting to geologists for the soil structures known as The Headley Heath Deposits. At the Western end of the Heath the soil form changes dramatically over a few meters to chalk down-land with two dry river valleys known locally as 5th and 6th Valleys. The central part of the village is mainly sandy loam but with a few patches of clay. Nower Wood is acid clay with flints forming a cap over Chalk, which has caused the formation of a line of swallow holes on the north side.

Flora

The varied soil types allow an impressive variety of plants to grow within the village assisted by the protection given to a large part of the area by conservation bodies. The acid part of the Heath supports good areas of Heather, Bell and Ling interspersed with Gorse and large areas of Wavy Hair Grass and Sheep Sorrel. Silver Birch and Bracken are the main invasive species and have to be controlled by grazing and mechanical means. Some semi-natural ponds support a small population of the very rare Starfruit.

As you move westwards and the first of the dry valleys is encountered there is a narrow strip of Chalk Heath where acid and calcareous plants exist together and you can see Heather and Bracken growing alongside Milkwort and Rock Rose. The chalk down land supports a large range of alkali loving species including several species of orchid. Parts of the Heath and the churchyard have an interesting population of Mosses and Lichens with several rare species having been found.

The staff and students of The Field Studies Council Centre at Juniper Hall intensively study the area so a very good record of species present is known.

The central part of the village is residential and agricultural but a good variety of plants can be found on the roadside verges, the trees are mainly Oak, Ash and Beech.

Nower Wood is a fragment of ancient woodland and is a mixture of mature Oak, Sweet Chestnut and Ash with an under story of Hazel, Holly and Birch. The ground flora is typical of ancient woodland and coppice with Primroses, Wood Anemones and Bluebells in abundance.

Mammals.

Most of the common species are present with the notable exception of Hedgehogs. Rabbits, Roe Dear, Badgers and Foxes are common, and a good spread of small mammals is caught when Longworth traps are set out to monitor the populations. Bats live in and around some of the older houses and in the woodland with Pipistrelle the commonest species.

Reptiles and Amphibians

The reptiles are represented Grass Snakes, Adders, Slow Worms, Lizards, and the amphibians by three species Newts, Frogs and Toads

Insects

Insects.

Intensive recording of Butterflies and Moths has taken place over many years and the total number of species recorded for Butterflies is 34 and Moths 199. Solitary bees and wasps relish the hot dry sandy soils and breed freely including some nationally rare species.

Birds

The Heath supports a good number of heath land species including Wood Lark and Dartford Warbler and healthy populations of Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Green Woodpeckers and in the winter Redwings. Sparrow Hawks and Kestrels are frequently seen. With the occasional passage rarity. Small ponds throughout the village help to support Mallard, Mandarin Ducks, Moorhens, Herons and marshy areas provide a breeding ground for Woodcock which can be seen "roding" on summer evenings.

The Heath is always open and you can explore at will. The National Trust staff and The Friends of Headley Heath arrange guided walks throughout the year to show the management strategy and point out items of interest for that particular time of the year. For details see the Friend's page on this site or The Surrey County Council Environmental News available at Libraries.

Permission should always be sought from the landowner before entering any private land.

Flowers

To help preserve the countryside remember: -

Take nothing but photographs.

Leave nothing but footprints.

Kill nothing but time.

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Peter Denyer, Headley Village Website 2006