Wildlife & Ecology

smooth snake

Snakes and Lizards

In 1997, when Bill Whitaker wrote his enchanting article describing the Snakes and Lizards of the Hurtwood for the last edition of this handbook, his final paragraph ended with the words: “Hopefully, with vigilance and care in continuing to implement the conservation strategy, the success of the project will continue into the next century.” Well, Bill will be pleased to know that well into the “next century”, the conservation strategy has continued apace and the site to which he was referring…

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Dew ponds that collect excess rainwater and then quickly dry up can be found scattered around The Hurtwood in any likely low-lying hollow. The hillsides contain many a spring that used to disgorge its water until, in the past 20 years, dry summers and relatively dry winters lowered the water table. However, permanent ponds have always been in short supply, the one significant exception being the pond at the north end of the main gallop on Holmbury Hill, which has appeared on maps since the…

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Wildlife and Birds

It’s about 4am on a beautiful morning at the end of May. The sun has not yet managed to raise its head above the horizon to brighten the day. The denizens of the night are preparing themselves for another day of inactivity while the early risers are stirring from their slumber. We are starting our walk on Holmbury Hill where the nightjar is issuing his final territorial proclamation, a long drawn-out churring, before he settles down to roost for the day on a nearby pine branch. The female is…

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