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Wildlife of the Sandlings

The habitat, climate and geology of the Sandlings combine to support a unique community of wildlife.



Silver-studded blue



Stone curlew

Dartford warbler

Extensive grazing management and the removal of useful heathland products has led to the development of a distinctive mosaic of vegetation, dominated by acid grasses such as sheeps fescue and common bent and heathers (ling, bell and cross-leaved heath). Birch, pine and bracken were part of the landscape but 'harvested' and so prevented from causing serious encroachment. Although this sward is fairly diverse and supports a number of increasingly uncommon plant species (including some now rare arable 'weeds') it is floristically comparatively poor, largely due to the absence of damp and wet ground and the associated species.

Conversely, the dry, hot conditions coupled with the vegetation mosaic has allowed a very diverse and distinctive invertebrate fauna to develop and the Sandlings heaths support a number of rare and threatened species of reptiles (adder and common lizard) and invertebrates including the rare silver-studded blue butterfly and one, the antlion, not known to breed anywhere else in the UK. A recent survey of the Sandlings recorded 176 species of bees and wasps out of 600 UK species and 121 species of fly.

More easily seen (and identified) are the suite of heathland birds found in the Sandlings. Once again this includes a number of species recognised as under threat. For two species, the Woodlark and the Nightjar, the Sandlings are a national stronghold. Linnet, Stonechat and Tree pipit are widely found and Dartford Warbler are increasing rapidly in range and number. Stone curlew are present in small numbers and it is hoped that special management work will attract more.

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