Biological survey at Limpsfield Common finds rare species

View from the Scearn Bank

A detailed biological survey has been completed at Limpsfield Common with some fascinating findings. Ecologist Graeme Lyons spent 3 days at the site recording species using a bio-blitz approach. The last survey was carried out in 1997 and this new survey highlights how much nature can change in that time.

A total of 773 species were recorded during the survey, 446 of which were invertebrates. 24 of these invertebrates were known to have conservation status which included ten scarce heathland specialist invertebrates, many of which require short, dry grassland, deadwood, heather and/or flowers to survive. This would have been what Limpsfield Common mainly consisted of 75 to 100 years ago but with the disappearance of these open areas, due to the changes in how the common is used, the potential habitat for these scarcer species is becoming limited.

To many people discovering small insects and invertebrates may not seem that exciting, however these are key indicators on the condition of the habitat. Some of the scarcer species recorded included;

Dodder in flower and dodder stems festooning gorse.
Dodder in flower and dodder stems festooning gorse.
Dodder in flower and dodder stems festooning gorse.
Hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum
Hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum
Hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum
Girdled Mining Bee
Andrena labiata
Girdled Mining Bee
Povolnya Leucapennella moth, wing span about 13mm
Scarce moth at Limpsfield Common
Povolnya Leucapennella moth, wing span about 13mm
Trametes Versicolor fungi also known as turkey tail
Fungi at Limpsfield Common
Trametes Versicolor fungi also known as turkey tail
Uleiota Planata. A very flat beetle with long antennae
Uleiota Planata
Uleiota Planata. A very flat beetle with long antennae

Of the eleven compartments surveyed, Ridlands came out the most biodiverse. This is probably due to the fairly intensively managed golf course, having been kept open for many decades. The survey recorded fungi, beetles, birds, bugs, butterflies, centipedes, crickets, dragonflies, flies, millipedes, moths and spiders to name a few. 

Enjoy the glorious views over the farmland at Ridlands
Enjoy the glorious views over the farmland at Ridlands
Enjoy the glorious views over the farmland at Ridlands

BIRDS

A total of 634 territories of 28 bird species were shown to be breeding on the Common. (But a total of 48 species were sighted).

Of these 28 species who are breeding, five ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ were known to be on the Common, including;  

Male bullfinch perched high in a tree
Male bullfinch perched high in a tree
Male bullfinch perched high in a tree
The perching Dunnock bird
The Dunnock
The perching Dunnock bird
Song thrush perched in a tree
Song thrush perched in a tree
Song thrush perched in a tree
Mistle thrush
Robin
Robin
Robin

The most sighted bird on the Common, the Robin, accounted for 20% of all territories across the whole common. After this, Wren at 87, Blue Tit at 69, Wood Pigeon at 55 and Great Tit at 45 territories were recorded. These five species, account for 268 territories or 42% of all the territories at Limpsfield.

The detailed biological survey, which was commissioned by the National Trust and paid for by the Friends of Limpsfield Common, highlighted some key management recommendations. Including; improving the condition of the surviving areas of lowland heath and acid grassland (priority habitat), this gives us the opportunity to look at the long term conservation management for the common. This will focus our efforts to ensure that when the next biological survey is carried out, we see an increase in species numbers especially these scarcer ones.

Be a Friend of Limpsfield Common.

THE FRIENDS OF LIMPSFIELD COMMON IS A SMALL LOCAL NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANISATION THAT SUPPORTS THE CONSERVATION, CARE AND ENJOYMENT OF LIMPSFIELD COMMON.

The Friends of LImpsfield Common was started in 1972 when the National Trust took over responsibility for the Common. We raise funds each year which is used for one off projects or for equipment for our local band of volunteers.

If you have any questions, or to become a Member of the Friends of Limpsfield Common, please email  friendsoflimpsfieldcommon@gmail.com