How Much Do You Know About Wimbledon Common?

Did you know that Wimbledon Common is home to an enormous range of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects? According to records from various natural history societies the Common is home to

• 22 species of mammal including badger, fox, stoat, weasel, feral ferret, feral cat, grey squirrel, bank vole, field vole, water vole, wood mouse, house mouse, common rat, rabbit, mole, hedghog, common shrew, pygmy shrew, water shrew

• 4 species of amphibians – Common  Toad, Common Frog, Smooth Newt, Terrapin (red-eared slider)

• 3 species of reptiles – Adder, Grass Snake and Common Lizard

• 12 species of fish – Common Carp, Mirror Carp, Grass Carp, Golden Rudd, Bream, Perch, Pike, Eel, Goldfish, Koi Carp, Tench and 5-spine Stickleback.

Wimbledon Common is also a very important habitat for birds. There are approximately 100 species observed each year of which around half are known to have bred on the Common. According to local records which commenced in 1974 there have been sightings of 122 different species in total. Just some of the wonderful birdlife on the Common includes Great and lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Little and Tawny Owls, Willow Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Egyptian Goose, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Common Buzzard, Sparrow Hawk, Ring-necked Parakeet and Cuckoo.

The Common is also the natural habitat for at least six different species of bat including Brown Long-eared bat, Pipistrelle, Daubenton’s bat, Serotine and Noctule bat. One of the best place to view the bats is in the woodland close to the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields and along the Beverley Brook. Curiously, another place is in a building close to the Ranger’s office.

The numerous shady ponds on Wimbledon Common make this probably the most important site for dragonflies and damselflies in London. A notable resident is the Hairy dragonfly. Others include the Emperor dragonfly, Ruddy Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer, Azure damselfly and Red-eyed damselfly.

There are 24 species of butterfly to be found. These include the Meadow Browns which are plentiful in summer and the more unusual Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks. 8 species of Hawkmoth inhabit the Common including the very unusual Humming-bird Hawkmoth and the Long-winged Conehead.

If you wish to find out more and discover the best spots for observing Wimbledon’s wildlife then it would be a great idea to join one of the many guided walks on Wimbledon and Putney Commons which are held under the auspices of the London Wildlife Trust, the Wandsworth Nature Study Centre and by David Haldane on behalf of the Wimbledon & Putney Commons Conservators.

Bat walks on Wimbledon Common are led the London Bat Group. Another opportunity is The Windmill Nature Trail, near The Windmill which is best visited during the period March to October. The trail was opened in 2000 and is situated 200 metres to the east of the Windmill car park and   was created to allow people with mobility problems the opportunity to access a small and representative section of Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath.

The trail comprises a firm flat footpath of approximately 800 metres with trail markers and directional signs along the way. It winds its way through three habitats, namely grassland, heath and woodland which are particularly abundant with birdlife and a representative diversity of the trees and shrubs to be found on the Common. To find out more contact the Ranger’s Office between 9am and 4 pm on 0208788 7655.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:26 pm.
Categories: About Wimbledon.

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