Longparish Village Handbook (1999 edition)
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Longparish has a variety of habitats, each rich in a diversity of wildlife, some with nationally rare associations of plants and animals.

The River Test provides an important breeding ground for fish, including brown trout, salmon, grayling, minnows, miller’s thumb and brook lamprey. It also supports a diverse invertebrate fauna including mayflies, stone and caddis flies and molluscs.

The margins of the river also support a rich flora and fauna, including riverine plants such as purple loosestrife, angelica, hemp agrimony, marsh woundwort, yellow flag and water dropwort and three different types of comfrey. Typical of some sections of the river are the distinctive towers of the great tussock sedge. Extensive areas of reed, lesser water sedge and reed mace provide essential cover for sedge and reed warblers, water rail and ducks (mostly mallard and tufted). Mute swans, moorhens, coots, little grebes (or dabchicks), grey wagtails and herons are the most commonly seen river birds. Occasionally kingfishers flash past. Greylag geese breed by the river, and Canada geese, although reduced from their numbers in the 1980s, are still numerous and less welcome residents.

The watercress beds provide overwintering habitat for common and green sandpiper, redshank, water rail, and, once in the early 1990s, a bittern.

Water meadows There is evidence that the fields on either side of the river were at one time managed as water meadow. This meant that in winter sluice gates were used to allow controlled flooding through channels cut in the fields. Flooding enriched the soil, protected the grass from frost and encouraged earlier growth. This system benefited wildlife as well as stock, but was abandoned in the early years of this century as being too labour-intensive. There are still pockets of some of the bio-diverse plant communities resulting from this annual flooding, especially in spring fed areas. Indicator plant species include common spike rush, Devil’s bit scabious, water avens, bog bean, ragged robin, southern marsh orchid, marsh and fen bedstraw, meadow arrow grass and greater bird’s foot trefoil.

Willow scrub and alder carr Wetland scrub habitat through this part of the Test is becoming less common having grown into mature alder carr, or been overplanted with poplars. Poplar was originally planted to supply Bryant and May with matches, and when they were taken over the market vanished, so the trees have been left to mature. The scarcity of this habitat is one reason for the decline in certain birds: grasshopper warblers, whitethroats and nightingales.

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