Grasslands In Reversion
Toward the Western end of the site, some of the grassland was used for arable agriculture in the late 20th Century until 2000. As with any soil used for agriculture, it was improved by adding nutrients to the soil, which made conditions rather different to the rest of the site. When this area was ‘reverted’ to grassland a wildflower mix was planted, such that now there is an interesting and changing mix. Areas of grass and clover are intermixed with ox-eye daisy, white clover and birds-foot trefoil, with a very impressive stand of cowslips in Spring. As grazing continues and the nutrient levels gradually fall, more of the native chalk-downland species are starting to move in, especially where soils are thinner or more compacted. Wild thyme, marjoram and fragrant orchids have spread here, with bee orchids just starting to colonise from the woodland edge at the top of the field.
A new hedge was also planted here in recent years providing shelter and a new ‘wildlife corridor’ linking the woodlands to the hedgerow alongside the Pilgrims Way. Not only will this provide a new link for special creatures like the hazel dormouse, but it is enabling a mix of management between the two separated areas. Inside the hedgerow, the grassland sward is allowed to grow longer, with less grazing. Long grass can be particularly important for small mammals and reptiles, and of course the buzzards, kestrels , peregrines and owls that feed on them!