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  • Julie Muller

MALVERN COMMON - (WR13 3JB) Closer than you imagine! -

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

I last visited Malvern Common with Zak on a glorious April day in the middle of lockdown. This place is a perfect place for a morning stroll and lots of other dogs and their humans were out walking that morning.

This small triangle of common land is a very recent addition to the list of SSSIs in Worcestershire. Although tiny, it comprises a delightful rare area of semi-natural grassland abundant with wildlife. Many areas similar to this have been lost to agriculture over the last few decades.

On previous visits, and at other times of the year, Shep and I had been allowed to run free and chase our balls.

However, on that day we stayed on our lead. It was bird nesting season and, dotted around the footpaths were signs to tell our humans about the ground-nesting birds that live here. It would be so easy for us to disturb them if we were allowed to run free.

One of the most well-known ground-nesting bird is the skylark and, as we trotted at our humans’ side we heard its unmistakable song as it took off from the ground. As another joined it, our humans strained their eyes to see them as they flew high up into the blue sky.

We plodded along at our humans’ side through the meadow. In the next few months this would boast the stiff tall flower spikes of the crested dogstail and the purple thistle-like flowers of common knapweed. Both of these are firm food favourites of a multitude of brown, blue and white butterflies including meadow brown, skipper, marbled white butterflies as well as a host of other insects.

Soon our paws pludged through a wetter part of the common where rush, a plant once used for making baskets and mats, was in the most abundance. We crossed the stream, and I snatched a drink, whilst our humans looked out for the tall purple spikes of the two types of orchid which grow here – the common spotted (you need to look at its leaves!) and the southern marsh orchids– but it was too early in the season to see them. These orchids normally flower between May and August.

However, tucked away from the path and close to the stream, we saw a small brown bird, sitting absolutely still on the ground. It was a skylark and this could easily have been sitting on a clutch of eggs.

We walked quickly on so as not to disturb it.

The pond looked very inviting as we walked past. We both took quick drinks but our humans made sure that we didn’t churn up the water. There was so much life in it. Water snails clung to the surface whilst water beetles raced past in a very haphazard fashion. Pond skaters glided along taking life at a much more leisurely pace. If you looked closely, you could see myriads of tiny fish and fat round black tadpoles.

In contrast to that April day, today the pond was still. The Common was also much less busy with far fewer dogs and their humans around. The ground was soft and damp to our paws, the grass had been recently mown and there were a few tell-tale stalks lying on the ground. However, the margins of the fields had been left uncut and small moths and daddy long legs flitted within the remaining scrub. The tall golden grasses swayed in the breeze.

Where the grass had been cut, the grass beneath our paws formed a mosaic of many different shaped leaves and occasional balls of mauve clover and yellow buttercup continued to blossom. Within the scrub bramble was intertwined with birds foot trefoil and vetch. There was such a variety of wildlife living here and yet, cars, vans and lorries trundled past on two of its three sides completely oblivious of just one of many special places right on our doorstep.

Our walk was coming to an end. An aged spaniel trotted at its human side.

Bruno went over to say hello.

Two sheepdogs sit and relax on Malvern. (Poolbrook) Common - the newest SSSI to where they live
Bruno and Shep rest on Malvern (Poolbrook) Common

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