Haslemere Natural History Society

Providing a focus for enthusiastic naturalists of all ages

Hidden Gems of Hankley Common

Date: 8 January 2022
Indoor Meeting

Mike Waite, Living Landscapes Manager and Policy Research Manager, Surrey Wildlife Trust
24 members logged on to this Zoom talk.
Mike explained that Hankley is the driest of three Wealden Heaths, the other two being Frensham and Thursley. The three key species associated with heathland- Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark are all present and their breeding progress is closely monitored. All six native reptiles are present, including Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake.
Because of the dry, sandy environment, some species usually found on the coast are present:  Ompatrum sabulosum (a species of Tenebrionid beetle), Attulus saltator (a jumping spider) and Sand Sedge.  Victory Jumping Spider, Mottled Grasshopper and Grayling butterfly are also present and there are rare or nationally scarce plants.
Surrey has the longest county list of spiders.  This now includes Alopecosa fabrilis, the Great Fox-Spider,  that was thought to be extinct in the UK until Mike rediscovered it in 2020.  He knew of past records in Dorset and Hankley; that it is a fast, agile night hunter with four pairs of eyes.  He set pitfall traps where a male was found on 2nd September 2020.  Such was the excitement that articles appeared in nature and national press, on BBC “Autumnwatch” and a personal mention in Wikipedia.
In 2020 he found 20 adult or sub-adult males in pitfall traps, but only one mature female which was free-ranging.  In 2021 the finds were: 47 adults, sub-adults and immatures, both male and female.

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