OS Map 186, Grid Ref SU715535
Meeting place: King George V playing fields car park, on A287
Client: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
This is part of the Trust's empire of scattered fragments of land between North Warnborough and Hook. Until about 1870, North-east Hampshire was one of the least populated districts of Southern England, with a well-preserved ninth century landscape. Hook Common and Bartley Heath are now designated as one SSSI, primarily for their heathland habitats. Marsh Gentian used to grow here but the grassland became ranker with the lack of grazing, and the last sighting was in 1998 (Tony Mundell, HIWWT Flora News, January 2016). Grazing has been re-introduced and there is a chance that lost species may re-appear.
Some southern areas of Hook Common have a long history of being managed as ash and hazel coppice with oak standards. With this comes an interesting mixture of woodland flowers, while deadwood supports some rare species of insects. Purple Emperor butterflies may be seen here.
Our first visit to the northern part of the common was in February 2017. The encroaching woodland is being knocked back, with the assistance of the resident livestock.
This weekend we will be continuing with clearing invasive birch and scrub to open up the important heathland for the benefit of its unique wildlife. The plan is to cut and stack material suitable for feeding into a chipper, and subsequently used in a biomass boiler.
Meet at 10am at King George V playing fields car park. From junction 5 of the M3, take the A287 north-west towards the A30. Just after the stretch of dual carriageway and before the traffic lights, turn right into the playing fields. Look out for our yellow signs.