Staines Moor

Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its nationally important floral communities and wintering wildfowl and waders.

Staines Moor is situated at the southern end of the Colne Valley. The grasslands range from semi-improved neutral to marshy.

Several rare plants are found here, including Small Water-pepper (polygonum minus), Brown Sedge (carex disticha) and Upright Chickweed (moenchia erecta). Yellow Flag Iris (iris pseudacorus) and Marsh Marigold (caltha palustris) are obvious in spring when they form wonderful floral displays.

A wide range of invertebrates have been found on the Moor, including several species of conservational concern such as the nationally rare Nomada Bee (nomada ferruginata) and mining bees (andrena florea and lasioglossum brevicorne). Good numbers of the near threatened Small Heath (coenonympha pamphilus) and 22 species of butterflies can be found here. Moths include the nationally scarce Red Belted Clearwing (synanthedon culiciformis), Ghost Swift (hepialus humuli) and Cinnabar (tyria jacobaeae).

A common sight in summer includes the uncommon White-legged Damselfly (platycnemis pennipes) and Banded Demoiselles (calopteryx splendens). In addition, 217 species of beetle have been recorded and 60 species of mollusc, including the scarce Thames Ramshorn Snail (gyraulis acronicus). The Moor has not been ploughed for at least 1,000 years which has allowed the oldest anthills in Britain to form here, the Yellow Meadow Ant (lasius flavus), which in turn attract Green Woodpeckers (picus viridis).

Birdwatchers have been visiting Staines Moor for over a century and 190 species have now been recorded. Four Red List species currently breed - Cuckoo (cuculus canorus), Skylark (alauda arvensis), Song Thrush (turdus philomelos) and Linnet (carduelis cannabina). During the winter, wildfowl from the reservoirs such as Teal (anas crecca) , Wigeon (anas penelope) and Gadwall (anas strepera)feed on the Moor.

Birds to look for include:

Year round: Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Little Egret, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit.

Summer: Hobby, Redshank, Skylark, Cuckoo, Kingfisher, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

Spring and autumn: Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, Common Redstart and Ring Ouzel.

Winter: Water Pipit, Stonechat, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe and Short-eared Owl.

You can walk anywhere on the Moor but during the nesting season dog owners must keep dogs on a lead and keep to the main paths to avoid disturbance to ground-nesting birds as well as to livestock (as required by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000).

Staines Moor is one of the largest areas of neutral grassland in England that has not been extracted for gravel or agriculturally improved. It is managed by Spelthorne Council, in partnership with the Moormasters and other community organisations.

This article was written by Lee Dingain. For more information, please contact the Sustainability team.

Shortwood Common

This semi-improved grassland site is designated a SSSI due its floral species with locally rare species present, the pond onsite also holds a nationally rare species. The common is situated on alluvial sands and gravel offering an ideal variation in terrain and drainage; this factor has led to the wide range of grassland types now present.

Neighbouring Staines Moor the site mirrors a similar ecological makeup; however due to the smaller scale and differing grazing regime variations are notable. Three significant terrestrial species which are found on the common include Wormwood artemisia absinthiumWild clary salvia verbenaca and Bermuda grass cynodon dactylon.

Shortwood Common pond is approximately 2.2ha in size and is situated to the north-west of the site. Owing to its increasingly rare characteristics of shallow drawn out margins and undergoing active grazing the pond boats a diverse range of fauna and flora. The flagship species for the pond and indeed the site would be Brown galingale cyperus fuscus, a nationally rare sedge which favours shallow and poached margins.

Dumsey Meadow

Unimproved neutral grassland is very limited within the Thames valley and is scarce throughout the south-east of England. Dumsey Meadow has great significance as a grazed unimproved Thames-side meadow in Surrey, the site is typically hay cut in late July with aftermath grazing taking place between August and December. The cattle used for grazing Dumsey Meadow are typically Belted Galloways and are supplied by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

The site chiefly consists of grassland dominated species such as Crested dog-tail cynosures cristatus and Common knapweed centaurea nigra. The habitats present can be very variable spanning from damp depressions to dry ridges. Due to its riparian setting a variation in conditions can fluctuate seasonally, this paired with its undulating topography offers pockets of varying floral presence. Burnet saxifrage pimpinella saxifrage and Strawberry clover trifolium fragiferum can be found on the raised mounds whereas the damp depressions hold Yellow iris iris pseudacorus and Marsh marigold caltha palustris.

The river bank is used for recreational fishing but still supports areas of Greater pond sedge carex riparia and Sweet flag acorus calamus. The site can be accessed via Chertsey Bridge Road but also makes up part of the Thames towpath.