Jan and Laurie Haseler led a walk round Crookham Common and BBOWT’s Baynes Wood reserve on Wednesday 15 August. Following several months of hot, dry weather, the grass on the common was crisp and brown, dotted with the yellow flowers of Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil and Lesser Hawkbit. Heather and Dwarf Gorse were also in flower. Common Blue butterflies were quite numerous and a few Small Heaths were seen. The walk started out past a series of ponds which were edged with the invasive New Zealand Pigmyweed. Flowers on the banks of the ponds included Viper’s Bugloss, Eyebright, Common and Blue Fleabane, Red Bartsia, Common Cudweed, Centaury, Sticky Groundsel, Dwarf and Carline Thistle and Common Knapweed. A flock of Linnets moved around the bushes. No fungi at all were seen on the common. Baynes Wood, in contrast, was green and lush. The first path led steeply downhill, edged with a plentiful supply of ripe blackberries. Enchanter’s Nightshade and Yellow Pimpernel were in flower here. After crossing a stream near the bottom of the wood, the route continued back up the valley, following first the stream, then the clearing under the power lines. Here there were dense patches of Wood Club-rush and Water Mint, the latter attracting bees, Hornets, Common Blue Damselflies and Green-veined White and Common Blue butterflies. A single Silver-washed Fritillary flew up into the trees. Other flowers seen here included Hemp-agrimony, Common Hemp-nettle, Wild Angelica, Marsh Thistle and a scattering of Himalayan Balsam. The route continued back onto the common. Dodder, with its tiny clusters of pink flowers, was spotted growing on Gorse. A boardwalk on the slopes below the southern side of the common crossed a boggy area where Wood Horsetail, Bog Pimpernel, and a plant that was later identified as Sensitive (or Bead) Fern Onoclea sensibilis. Further on was a pond with Bogbean, Purple Loosestrife, Lesser Spearwort and Common Calamint. On the walk back across the common, a Little Egret was spotted at the edge of one of the ponds. The walk was followed by lunch at the Traveller’s Friend at Crookham.
Pictures by Rob Stallard