Heathlands are a wonderful addition to your woodland with lots of wildlife to see.
Heathland is found from sea level to about 1000m. Low soil fertility means heathland is usually characterised by a small number of plant species, normally dominated by heathers.
Upland heath is found over shallow peat and mineral soils in the north and west of the UK, as well as in the southern uplands, this is often called moorland. Lowland heath is found below about 300m on more freely draining sands and gravels.
Both habitats can include wet and dry plant communities.
These are “semi-natural” habitats, requiring human intervention to stop them developing into woodland.
What to look for on heathland:
In early spring, listen out for what is arguably Britain’s most beautiful bird song, that of the woodlark. Between May and August, the distinctive churring of nightjar may be heard at dusk from mature heath. The enigmatic stone curlew is best seen at publicised reserves, for example in Breckland. Lots of reptiles are found on heathland, especially on sunny spring mornings.
Invertebrates are at their best in June and July, heathland supports many rarities that are hard to find, but the striking green tiger beetle and the beautiful day-flying emperor moth are more common, while eye-catching clouds of silver-studded blue butterflies can be seen flickering over short open heath.
From April, many heaths turn yellow as gorse blossom is at its most abundant, but heathers flower later and are at their best in August.
The Wildlife Trusts is an invaluable source of information of wildlife with numerous publications about local habitats.