Chalk Grassland

Birds foot Trefoil
Birds foot trefoil

There are wide expanses of chalk grassland to be found at the Country Park. The best examples are in areas known as Coombe Terrace (the steep area to the left of the concrete track past the pillbox), and Scab's Island (the steep area of grass to the north west of New Barn).

Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats in Western Europe, but increasing pressure over the years have led to its destruction and fragmentation, so it is now becoming increasingly rare.

Bloody Nosed Beetle
Bloody nosed beetle

Chalk grassland is a nationally rare habitat, and supports a fantastic variety of plants and insects. Really good quality chalk grassland can have up to 50 different species of plants and grasses within a single square metre. It is formed through centuries of sheep grazing and management, and is a very fragile habitat. It is very susceptible to invasion from scrub and coarse grasses, and so it is important that it is managed through a careful regime of mixed grazing.

Adonis Blue Butterfly
Adonis blue

There are a number of typical flora and fauna that are associated with chalk grassland. These include ... the delicate flowers of milkwort, whose colours range from white through pink to deep blue; the gloriously robust and upright flowers of the round-headed rampion, or pride of Sussex (which is the emblem of the South Downs Society); the wonderfully delicate and heavily scented wild thyme; the explosion of white flowers of dropwort; the rich red and purple flowers of hound's tongue; the sprawling yellow and red flowers of bird's foot trefoil (or eggs and bacon, or ladies' stocking - this plant has over 50 common names throughout the UK!);

Wild Thyme
Wild thyme

and the gentle nodding buttery coloured head of the cowslip; the lumbering bloody nosed beetle, which expels a red liquid when threatened; the brilliant turquoise of the Adonis blue butterfly, with its checkerboard wing margins; the large orange and black dark green fritillary butterfly, whose vigorous flight enables it to travel along the wind ravaged cliff tops; the peregrine falcon, who hides in the sun waiting to dive down on unwary smaller birds in flight......

Find out more about chalk grassland.

Seven Sisters Country Park
chalk grassland