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The Natural Environment

December Wildlife Diary now live

Scroll down for the latest edition of Stephen’s popular Silchester Wildlife Diary.

 

Silchester Common Working Parties

The next working party is on Saturday 11th December.

Clearing old gorse and birch is essential to maintain the Common as a breeding site for rare birds such as the Nightjar.  The RSPB explains more.

Composting

Composting is a great way to cut the food waste that otherwise goes in your grey bin, and to save money on buying commercial products.  For hints and tips, read our blog on Getting Started with Composting.  We are doing a group purchase scheme to take advantage of Get Composting’s multibuy discount, so if you live in Silchester or Pamber Heath please get in touch, or to buy independently go to www.getcomposting.com and enter your  postcode.

 

Local Activities

The many rare species that make their home on the Common do so because the heathland has been managed for hundreds of years.  Left to itself, the birch and gorse would take over, and we would lose our nightjars, nightingales and newts.  The Commons working party volunteers meet approximately monthly during the autumn and winter.  For more details see The Common

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have lots of information on how to make your garden more wildlife friendly.  See Hampshire IoW Wildlife Trust

 


 

About Biodiversity


Silchester Common

Silchester Common is one of the few surviving tracts of heathland in North Hampshire.  It supports many rare species, making it one of the best sites of its size in Hampshire.

Insects

Insects are the foundation of all terrestrial ecosystems.  Without insects and other invertebrates, human life on this planet would be impossible. 

Silchester Wildlife Diary: December Highlights

December is a winter month when the temperature drops and the trees shed their leaves, leaving the forest looking quite a barren place. This lack of leaf cover, however, means that it is a good time to spot some of the larger mammals that live in Pamber Forest and sometimes come to graze on Silchester Common. In particular, I thought I would mention some of the deer species that live locally.

There are six species of deer in total that live in the UK and we are lucky to have three species living here in Pamber Forest. These are as follows:

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

The roe deer is a native British species and is primarily an animal of mixed and small woodland but is capable of adapting to a wide variety of habitats. It sometimes makes use of gardens, parks and other open spaces where there is food and cover. It may also be seen well out into open farmland. They are the largest of the three types of deer found locally.

Muntjac Deer

Muntjac

Muntjac are an introduced species that have flourished here in the UK and are now here to stay. They are territorial and the social unit is a family group, with young adults being driven off before the arrival of the next fawn. Males make large scrapes and fray on low branches, mostly using their tusks, rather than their antlers. The tusks are the muntjac’s primary weapons and they can be quite ferocious with them. I once saw a rutting male throw another completely over his head during a fight. Both sexes bark like a small dog at intruders, often continuing for many minutes and can often be heard at night in Pamber Forest as they are quite loud.

 

 

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer

Fallow deer were introduced to the UK by the Normans for hunting. In lower-density populations in agricultural areas such as Silchester mixed-sex groups regularly occur throughout the winter. Fallow deer have a variety of mating systems ranging from non-territorial defence of harems to the development of clusters of small mating territories or “leks”. Fallow generally produce single fawns on an annual basis. In my opinion, they are the most attractive of the three species living locally with their dappled coats and magnificent antlers among the males.

 

 

One More Deer

I have said that there are only three species of deer present in Silchester but there are rumours of a fourth type of deer being spotted in and around Silchester particularly on the evening of 24 December. This deer is rumoured to come all the way from Lapland to Silchester for just one night and can be easily spotted due to the bright colours on his nose. It is said that he likes to be fed mince pies and red wine. If any children happen to spot him then please let me know – I am keeping a record of sightings of this rare red nosed reindeer for conservation purposes.