Thursley Common National Nature Reserve
Thursley NNR is one of the largest remaining fragments of Surrey heath and includes areas of lowland heath, mire and woodland. The site supports a range of typical heathland wildlife including large invertebrate populations. The best time to visit the reserve is between May and September. The reserve's mixture of mire and wet heath is one of the finest examples of its type in southern England. The site contains bog pools, sphagnum lawns and, in drier areas, tracts of cross-leaved heath on the sandy soils.
Damp areas support carnivorous plants such as sundew. Bog asphodel and marsh orchid may also be seen. Large populations of grayling and purple emperor butterflies can be seen here and of course the silver studded blue butterfly. There are also 26 recorded dragonfly species. Sandier sites on the reserve provide homes for many species of solitary bees and wasps.
Thursley Common Highlights.
- This large site contains some of the finest remaining heathland on the Lower Greensand in Southern England. The valley mire on Thursley Common is regarded as one of the best in Britain. The site is of national importance for its bird, reptile and invertebrate populations.
- The invertebrate fauna is numerous and diverse. Twelve species of orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) occur including the nationally rare large marsh grasshopper.
- The boggy pools and ditches and the lakes and their margins support dragonfly and damselfly populations which include the nationally scarce white-faced dragonfly. The fly fauna includes three nationally rare species: Asilus crabroniformis, Thyridanthrax fenestratus and Chrysogaster macquarti. The nationally scarce beetle Altica ericeti and the nationally rare bug Micranthia marginalis have also been recorded.
- The site supports several nationally scarce butterflies including silver-studded blue, white-letter hairstreak and purple emperor.
- The heathlands are of outstanding importance for reptiles, most notably the nationally rare sand lizard and smooth snake.
- The site is one of the richest for birds in Southern England. Breeding birds specifically associated with the heathland include woodlark, Dartford warbler, nightjar, stonechat and whinchat; this is also one of the few inland breeding grounds for curlew.
- The area of fen and open water also support rich communities of breeding birds including great crested grebe, mute swan, coot, water rail and little grebe.
- Birds which breed in the areas of woodland include all three British woodpeckers, woodcock, redstart, tawny owl, nightingale and hawfinch. The open expanse of heath, scrub and unimproved grassland provide important wintering grounds for certain notable species including great grey shrike and raptors.
The best time to visit the reserve is between May and September to see birds, dragonflies and flowers.
Highlights: Woodlark, nightjar, hobby and Dartford warbler are all present. The reserve is the only regular curlew breeding site in Surrey and in winter the great grey shrike is a regular visitor. Merlin, peregrine and short-eared owl have also been recorded at the site.
Iconic silver studded blue butterfly thriving after the fire at Thursley National Nature Reserve
NB Thursley was badly damaged by fire in July 2006. See details.
Location: The reserve is just north of the village of Thursley, 5 kms south west of Milford and 8 kms south west of Godalming, just west of the A3.
There is a car park at The Moat, an area in the north west section of the reserve accessed via the Elstead road. There is also limited parking in Thursley village.
Grid reference: SU900416
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These maps are intended as a guideline only; you must check the exact location of the reserve yourself. Wildlife Extra assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the information on this website.