Pirbright and its Wildlife
Let me introduce myself…I’m Sarah Bunce and I’ve lived on Bullswater Common Road in Pirbright for four and half years. I’m lucky enough to be involved with local nature conservation, through my work with the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership. You might have seen our burgundy-clad wardens out on the heaths? We’re working in partnership with the local councils, the Ministry of Defence, Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Surrey Heathland Project to conserve heathland wildlife.
You might not think of Pirbright as a hotspot for rare wildlife, but it really is! By a fluke of nature we have the perfect geology and climate for heathland, a very special wildlife habitat. So special that in 2005 our heaths became part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. It includes the Pirbright heaths at Bullswater Common, Pirbright Common and Brookwood Heath, and also nearby Sheet’s Heath, Whitmoor Common and Ash Ranges.
Much of the magic happens at twilight. You could walk on the heaths everyday of your life and not see my favourite bird, the nightjar. But visit on a summer evening at dusk, and you’ll hear the strange, mechanical churring of the males, and maybe even catch a mesmerising glimpse of a bird in flight. Astoundingly, they come all the way from Africa to nest here on our heaths. They nest right on the ground, amongst the heather and gorse.
You might think that nesting on the ground would lead to a precarious existence, but these birds have been living and breeding alongside us for centuries. Only in recent years has their vulnerability become an issue.
Everyone can help
It’s easy to help and simple things can make a huge difference. When you’re out on the heaths, please keep to main paths and keep your dog on the path and out of vegetation.
Help prevent fires by following the code “No fires or BBQs, ensure cigarettes are out and take all litter home”.
Thames Basin Heaths Partnership
Heathland House, Heather Farm, Woking GU21 4XY