The public footpath 126a runs alongside Red Road and the perimeter fence of the Bisley and Pirbright Ranges. Not being far from home, it’s a path that I use frequently for outdoor walking exercise. It’s the path about which I’m wont to talk ad nauseam about wild flowers at the side of the track.
Yesterday I encountered a notice say that minor repairs were being carried out to the eroded sections of the path over 5 days from the 11th June 2018. The path needed repair, so the work is worthwhile. My immediate concern was the loss of wild flower habitat on one side of the track, sadly the side on which I’d seen a Bee Orchid. The other side of the path is untouched by the repairs, and the heath spotted orchids are abundant.
The native wild orchids in our heathland are much appreciated by me, and most probably all those who walk on the track that bounds the Pirbright and Bisley ranges in Lightwater.
To see how much their arrival consumes my mind, type orchids in the search box at the top of the page, or see HERE.
I anticipate their arrival by looking closely at the sides of the heathland track for signs of their coming. This year, not unexpectedly following our harsh winter, they’ve arrived late. I looked for them towards the end of May, and saw little sign of them. I visited the area of the track where they’re to be found and was rewarded by the sudden flourishing. The early marsh orchids that grow in Folly Bog are far fewer in number this year. I will visit again to check on them, and report back here.
All I await now is the arrival of the Bee Orchid, which sadly didn’t appear last year.
Here’s an essential source if you’ve a botanical bent about knowing the plants in the dry and wet heathland and bogs in our area
This document has helped me to identify the two kinds of Sundew in Folly Bog, and some of the other plants, such as the Bog Asphodel.
Living close to the heathland and Folly Bog means I regularly investigate the flora. At the end of April, during a dry spell, I looked for evidence of orchids, and found the leaves emerging of just one. It was only yesterday that I got a chance to visit the heathland tracks and Folly Bog again for evidence of orchids.
Some success, I found a few early marsh orchids in Folly Bog, while also just a few heath spotted orchids alongside the edge of the heathland track. The flowering season for these wild orchids begins in May, and is best in June , July and August. Therefore I’d expected to see orchids, perhaps not in full bloom, but certainly showing signs of growth. I didn’t see many signs of orchids. I wonder if the cold weather earlier in the year has delayed their appearance.
I’ll just have to return to the bog and track side to check on their arrival – hopefully abundant as in previous years. In 2016 and 2017 they were plenty of orchids in bloom at the end of May. To learn of my travails in identifying orchids, type orchids into the search box. There’s plenty to read.
Thought you might like to see what I found. Later, I’ll draw a map of the area to show the best places to see the different flora.
Being reasonable weather on Wednesday this week I ventured out on a longish heathland walk.
I walked down into Folly Bog from the track alongside Red Road. Actually, I pushed my way through the gorse and heather, and surprisingly found the ground firm underfoot. So, I had a good wander round. There’s nothing much to report, the Bog Asphodel has died down, and the sundews were nowhere to be seen, just grasses, sedge, mosses, and lichens.
As a challenge, I’ve often tried to cross the bog, and have never succeeded, even in dry summer. I’m sure it must’ve have been possible in the not to distant past, as there’s remnants of half-buried tarmac, not much, but some. There are also a few rusting steel plates, which you can see in my photo.
Surrey Heath Borough Council announce that,
Lightwater Country Park has achieved the highest rating from Natural England for the condition of its ecologically important habitat.
The area of heathland within the Country Park has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Country Park is therefore an area of high nature conservation value, protected by law.
In the most recent assessment by public body Natural England (NE), the habitat management of Lightwater Country Park by Surrey Heath Borough Council has been praised. The report, following NE’s visit in August 2017, said: “The diversity and quality of habitat management actions being undertaken is excellent, and is maintaining and enhancing the heath land habitat.
“It is a result of this diligent stewardship of the Country Park/SSSI site that habitat conditions have improved to bring the site into favourable condition and this is to the credit of Surrey Heath Borough Council.”
The ‘strategic and sensitive signage”, active visitor management, use of goats to control invasive trees and scrub, and abundance of heathland birds such as the Dartford warbler are all commended in the report.