© Stephen Duffy
The largest National Nature Reserve in the south east of England.
Chobham Common is the largest National Nature Reserve in the south-east of England and one of the finest remaining examples of lowland heath in the world.
Heathlands are one of the most ancient and characteristic British landscapes, originally created by prehistoric farmers. For over 200 generations rural communities have carefully managed this stunning open countryside resulting in a wonderful, wildlife rich, patchwork of mini-habitats. The few surviving heathlands are very special places providing a living link to our stone-age past.
Chobham Common is recognised across Europe for its variety of bird life with over 100 different species having been recorded here. These include the very rare dartford warbler, the hobby and the nightjar. Over 300 species of wild flower grow here. Sweeps of purple flowering heather and sweet scented gorse dominate the heathland whilst the wetlands harbour insect-eating sundews and rare marsh gentians.
In mid-summer several species of native orchids can be found around the heathland verges. In the undergrowth, water and the heathland vegetation there are frogs, toads, newts, adders, grass snakes, common and sand lizards, slow worms and 25 species of mammal.
If you are quiet and tread softly you might see foxes and deer.
Chobham Common is recognised as one of the best British sites for insects and spiders. It is the premier site for ladybirds, bees and wasps. Some 29 species of butterfly live here, among them the rare silver-studded blue, and 22 types of dragonfly hover and dart above the heathland pools.
It is the sheer range of habitats that provide this rare biodiversity. The expanses of heather are broken up by deep valley bogs, isolated pines and patches of grassland, gorse and silver birch. The numerous ponds contained within Chobham Common are fringed by mixed broad-leaved and pine woodlands.
Find out more about the history of Chobham Common in this fascinating journal from Graham Webster:
Species and habitats