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Pirbright Common has gone

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Marsh View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11 Mar 2014 at 9:32pm
Back in the 70s I covered pretty much all of NW Surrey looking (rather then surveying) for reptiles. Even exchanged letters with Keith Corbett and others. Supplied record cards for every site I visited. Went on a trip to Dorset with Tony Phelps where I showed Mark O'Shea the first adder he'd seen in the wild on the way to the venue.
The best place I found for the common stuff was Pirbright Common, to be honest I only found the common stuff in NW Surrey. In those days I believe Pirbright Common was still in Army hands. 
Late 70s (after 75 as I know the date I got an adder bite there) the area was "flailed". At least that was the name I had discovered for the wreckage of the site.
About 15 to 20 years later the reptiles had found the way back, about 15 years ago I had an amazing hit of around 35 herps, mostly adder, some natrix, good count of slow worm, and the usual viviparous.
Slowly, for no apparent reason as far as I could see, the adders, in particular, dropped in number.
I went there Sunday (9/3/2014) to see what was there.

Well, the place has been flailed again (or perhaps mulched, as suggested by a SWT ranger I spoke to on Chobham Common later). The ground cover is pretty much gone, totally gone. There are a few patches of heath left, but with a long run up I'd probably jump half way across them.

I am so sad. I've been going to this place for 40 years, it got torn apart in the late 70s, and it has been ravaged far worse now. I think this is the work of the Surrey Heathland Recovery Project or something along those lines, as they have signs along the gates of the adjacent Brookwood Heath.
I, personally, don't feel the herps like Brookwood Heath. I have never found much there. It's very flat, maybe not what herps like. So, I worry if they will want to move there. Also, it was the best place I have ever found for basking slow worms.
I wonder if I'll ever see an adder on the first place I saw one again?
So, pretty much a heads up. There is nothing to see on Pirbright now, the ground nesting birds have nothing left either.
Gutted. Really, really, very, very, gutted.
Marshall Black
I took some photos, might add later if anyone is interested. Can't bear to look at them for now....
Marsh
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2014 at 9:54pm
I would like to see pictures when you feel up to it.

What can I say? Seen it happen myself and there is nothing to fill the emptiness of the loss of animals at a site and memories tainted.




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Tom Omlette View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Omlette Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2014 at 10:35pm
sorry to hear that news marsh. it must feel like a bereavement.

tom
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 6:43am
ditto to the above. Can't believe this sort of thing continues to happen in spite / because of all the organisations that should know better..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 7:03am
This is very sad reading ,its what I have been witnessing for years in many areas ,the worse thing this is the sort of thing you expect from developers but when so called self appointed environment managers ruin places of habitat it beggars belief Keith

Edited by AGILIS - 12 Mar 2014 at 7:04am
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 6:43pm
Originally posted by AGILIS AGILIS wrote:

This is very sad reading ,its what I have been witnessing for years in many areas ,the worse thing this is the sort of thing you expect from developers but when so called self appointed environment managers ruin places of habitat it beggars belief Keith


££££££££££ sorry call me cynical but it's all about them getting funding to keep their jobs. They get a stack of money and the cheapest way of getting the job done is to call in the contractors with plant machinery. The rest goes to pay the wages.

I think in the whole of my life it is the worst case of something simply being fundamentally 'wrong' I have ever come across.





Edited by GemmaJF - 12 Mar 2014 at 6:44pm
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Marsh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marsh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 7:37pm
Hi all, thanks for the comments.
Here are some photos.

The birches were a den area.

The birches in the distance, before the pine, were a den area, but I must say I hadn't seen much there in the past few years.

This gives some idea of the height of heather before the flailing.

Pretty much all habitat gone.

I'm thinking I'll be checking out some other areas now.
There were tracked machinery being used, you could see the after effect of the vehicles.
The areas where I have had most sightings in recent years have been wiped out so completely that I had no reference point left to work out where the den areas were located. 
Cheers
Marsh
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AGILIS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 8:04pm
Marsh if you think Pilbright is bad have a look back on the Method and management thread at the Hyde heath oblitration near Stoborough In Purbeck that I put on a while back and see what the rspb did there   keith

Edited by AGILIS - 12 Mar 2014 at 8:07pm
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Mar 2014 at 8:55am
I think keith the pictures often make things look better than they are. Less soil disturbance than I've seen at some sites where they have scraped it, but this is a an almost total loss of vegetation. Particularly badly timed with animals now emerging.

Sadly Marsh from what I've experienced it's likely that you will see animals, maybe even more than usual after a vegetation clearance. It is short lived though, as predators see a lot more too.
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Marsh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marsh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Mar 2014 at 9:41pm
Keith, I don't doubt there has been worse, it's just sad for me personally. If you are Keith Corbett this is exactly the area we swapped letters about in the (very late - trying to save our ages) 70s.
Gemma...........I don't think so, I will have a look every now and then, but am worried that the site is gone. I really don't think I will see animals. Actually, I think bye, bye, Pirbright.
To be honest, there are sites nearby that I have neglected, easier to get a quick hit at Pirbright than spend time searching different places. So, maybe there will be a result here and there. So, I will keep looking.
But, I still haven't seen my 1st adder of the year yet, makes my year start normally. Will try this weekend.
Never give up, thanks for the chat, I'll be out there this weekend.
Cheers all,
Marsh
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