Hampshire Countryside Service

Management of Broxhead Common Local Nature Reserve

The main focus of the management is on conservation, ensuring that the heath remains open and is not progressively encroached on by the areas of woodland. It is a common concern of the public that the felling of woodland or scrub takes away vital nesting sites for birds; but this is a misconception as many of our rarer birds are ground nesting species.

The reliance of these ground nesting species on heather for cover is one of the reasons why the management and preservation of heathland is such an important activity. Birds which nest in this way include the Dartford Warbler, the Stonechat and the Woodlark Amazingly these nest can be very close to paths.

Last year during the undertaking of a dawn bird census at Broxhead Common, a woodlark nest was found les than a metre from a path. A Stonechats nest was located during bracken spraying, the parents were making quite a fuss so we stopped our activity and watched the birds in order to find their nest and make sure we did not inadvertently step on it.

One danger to ground nesting birds can come from dogs; heaths are obviously a pleasant and attractive place to walk dogs and and use of heathlands for such activities adds weight to the need for there conservation. However it is unfortunate that dogs can sometimes disturb nests if allowed to run freely over the heather. In order to make sure this does not happen it is best to try to keep your dogs to the paths that transect the heath especially during the breeding season in spring and early summer. In this way users of the common can do their bit to help conserve some of the increasingly rare heathland birds that help make Southern England's heaths such a pleasant place to walk.