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Wildlife Habitats

Martin Down - National Nature Reserve

Cowslip and Burnt Tip Orchid Chalk Grassland

Old downland, unploughed for centuries, occupies the southern half of the reserve. A huge variety of downland flowers is found here and on many ancient earthworks. Plants include horseshoe vetch, chalk milkwort, salad burnet, dropwort, rockrose, burnt-tip orchid, dwarf sedge and field fleawort. The northern half of the reserve was ploughed for a few years in the 40s and 50s. An outstanding range of butterflies is found on the down, from the silver-spotted skipper and Adonis blue on very short turf to the dark-green fritillary and marbled white in the longer grassland.

All the grassland is important for ground-nesting birds, such as skylark and grey partridge and also hares, whose numbers have severely declined on farmland in recent years.

Chalk Heath

The presence of clay, slit and flint deposits on the chalk has resulted in patches of more acid soils which, in certain areas, support an unusual mixture of chalk and heath plants growing together,

Female Adder Heather and wood sage can be found growing next to harebells and salad burnet, for example.

Scrub and Woodland

Scrub is an important and valuable habitat on the reserve. Areas of mixed scrub and grassland edge are especially rich for wildlife, providing shelter and a range of food sources in close proximity. The larger blocks of scrub are important nesting areas for birds, particularly warblers and nightingales.

Duke of Burgundy, silver-washed fritillary and white admiral butterflies can be found in the scrub and woodland clearings of Kitts Grave.

There are small areas of woodland at the far north and south ends of the reserve which are left undisturbed.