Blackwater Valley Countryside

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Wetlands

BulrushThis term refers to a wide range of water dependent habitats often, but not necessarily, found adjacent to ponds, lakes
or rivers. Examples in the Valley include:

Carr

Carr is woodland that has long periods of waterlogging. Alder and Willow trees dominate in these conditions. Not surprisingly Alder is a feature of the Valley, it is valuable for wildlife, with flocks of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Siskins often seen around them in winter.

Beneath the trees where light reaches the ground the flora can be dominated by bramble. In wetter spots sedges occur, commonly Remote Sedge but in three woodlands the nationally scarce Carex elongata (this has the local name Gingerbread Sedge) is found.

Broad Buckler Fern and Male Fern also like these damp shady conditions, with just a few specimens of the spectacular Royal Fern known.

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Reedbeds

Reedbeds are surprisingly rare in the Valley with just two examples, both based on old silt beds associated with gravel extraction. A specialist fauna is found here:

  • Reed and Sedge Warblers
  • Wainscot Moths
  • Beetles
  • Bees

Whilst species variety is restricted, numbers of those that can survive can be large.

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Yellow Loosestrife by Ian WhiteMarsh & swamp

Mash and swamp communities have also developed on old silt beds. These can support a wider variety of plants and animals than reedbeds:

  • Rushes, Sedges and Reedmace dominate the plant life
  • Yellow Loosestrife, Purple Loosestrife, Yellow Flag and many other plants also flourish

A wide variety of invertebrates like these conditions.

The nationally rare bee Macropis europea (no common name) has its stronghold in the Surrey/Hampshire area relying on Yellow Loosestrife.

Pools and ditches can hold:

  • Dragonflies eg Ruddy Darter
  • Water spiders
  • Leaf beetles

A special guide to the 30 species of Dragonflies and Damselflies to be found in the Blackwater Valley is available. Click here for further information.

Teal and Mallard also use these small pools in winter, whilst swans often use small islands hidden in these areas to build their nests.