Management of Yateley Common Country Park
Yateley Common is recognized for its importance to nature conservation and is protected under both UK and EU law.
It is also a vital recreational resource for the local community and visitors to the area.
Much of the Common is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a Special Protection Area (SPA) because of its importance for wildlife.
It has a dense network of bridleways with many smaller paths.
We ask horse riders to use designated bridleways and walkers to keep to paths.
This will help to minimise disturbance to the many internationally important ground nesting birds that use the Common.
The wide variety of habitats on Yateley Common Country Park make it suitable for a range of wildlife. The areas of heathland primarily consist of three types of heather- Ling, Bell Heather and Cross Leaved Heath, along with Common and Dwarf Gorse. These areas support a variety of specialised heathland wildlife including a number of breeding birds of European importance, including Nightjars, Dartford Warblers and Stonechats.
Being warm and sandy, the heathland on the Common makes an ideal home for a number of insects and reptiles, including the Heath Potter Wasp, the Viviparous Lizard (right) and Adders. The Common also supports a variety of butterflies such as the Silver Studded Blue and the Grayling.
A number of interesting flowers such as Bee Orchids and Carline Thistle can be found on the grassland areas to the west of the site. In spring Bluebells and Wood Anemones carpet old wooded hedge banks, whilst the distinctive song of the Nightingale is commonly heard alongside more common species such as the Garden Warbler and Chaffinch.
The ponds and lakes on the Common are particularly important for a number of scarce dragonflies and damselflies, including the Black Darter and Downy Emerald. Six species of nationally notable water beetles have also been found.
In order to preserve the important heathland habitat we regularly have to remove large areas of scrub and trees which would otherwise shade out the valuable heathland wildlife. After clearing an area it is often necessary to scrape off the nutrient rich layer of top soil. Being adapted to poor soils, heather finds it difficult to compete with other plants when soil conditions improve. Once an area has been scraped the heather can naturally regenerate from the seeds remaining in the soil. Bracken control is another important aspect of our heathland management work.
As well as working to preserve the heathland, we also aim to maintain a variety of habitats and vegetation structures such as woodland, scrub, scattered trees and grassland. This enables a wide diversity of wildlife to survive and is important for species that use more than one habitat during their lifecycle or daily activities. Some species are especially reliant upon the boundaries between habitat types.
If invasive species such as Rhododendron become established every effort is made to remove and eradicate them before they out compete the native wildlife.
Each year the Countryside Staff undertake a number of surveys to monitor the Special Protection Area Birds and the Reptiles on Yateley Common.
Nightingale Habitat Management
Throughout the winter period of 2010 and 2011 volunteers have begun working hard to try and recreate the scrubby thicket like habitat favored by Nightingales .
The West End of Yateley Common has long been an important area for breeding Nightingales, but in recent years numbers have fallen as the once suitable thicket like habitat has developed into a less suitable woody environment. The Nightingale depends on the thick cover of vegetation to protect it from predators, and provide suitable nesting and foraging space.
By cutting the Oaks and Willow and layering them on this part of site it is hoped that the thicket type habitat will be recreated providing protection, and that interspersed trees will provide perches from which the males can call. With the long term hope of encouraging Nightingale numbers to improve.
We manage the Common in such a way that people can enjoy quiet, informal recreation in pleasant and safe surroundings.
This involves work as diverse as repairing paths, clearing litter and preventing abuses of the Common such as motor cycling.
It also includes management of the fishing at Wyndham's Pool and Hospital Pond which are currently leased by Hartley Wintney Angerling Society.
New in 2011
Pond Dipping Platform on Strood Pool
A new ‘T’ shaped dipping platform was installed on Strood Pool thanks to a Big Lottery –Awards for All grant secured by The Yateley Society.
The platform was installed by Volunteers from the local community and Yateley Society along with Hampshire County Council’s Countryside Rangers during November 2011, and was constructed out of Millboard recycled plastic. This material was chosen because it will be long lasting and will not cause chemicals to be leached into the water as can happen with treated wood.
The platform was designed so that it would sit under water during the winter when the pond is full and allow pond dipping to continue long into the summer when water levels fall leaving the banks of the pond high and dry.
The pond is used throughout the year by school and after school groups learning about pond life and this new platform is helping children get a better and safer experience.