Thursley Common is a national nature reserve in Surrey, England, and has also been designated as a Ramsar wetland. It is also part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest called Thursley, Hankley and Frensham Commons.
Thursley Common is an area of some 350 hectares of heathland in the southwest of Surrey, England. It is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as a National nature reserve. Lying between the villages of Thursley and Elstead, the common is generally 2–300 feet above sea-level. The site consists of extensive areas of open dry heathland, with peat bogs, ponds, boggy pools and ditches, and both pine and deciduous woodland. There are sandy tracks and paths, and a “Heath trail” leads from the carpark around a circuit, with boardwalks in boggy areas and with a number of information boards
In 2020, another wildfire resulted in 150 hectares, about a third of the core reserve, being burnt. An estimated 200-300 animal and plant species have been affected. A subsequent ‘Preserve Our Reserve’ campaign has raised over £30,000 for initial clearance works, to promote early regeneration of the flora and fauna, for preservation projects to restore the habitat and providing information & future fire prevention. The funds are being managed by Elstead and Thursley Parish Councils who will liaise with Natural England over the projects.
Thursley Common is one of the last remaining heathlands in Surrey. It is famed for its diverse wildlife. Whilst crossbill, red kite, woodlark and stonechat are regularly seen, birds such as Dartford warbler, whinchat, wheatear, tree pipit and common redstart are frequently encountered. Rarer birds including osprey, black redstart and great grey shrike also visit the common. There are nationally important breeding populations of nightjar and wood lark. The wetlands support several rare invertebrates, twenty species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded here, and there are six species of native reptile in the reserve.
Thursley shares a Saxon and Norse heritage, celebrated on the village sign with a depiction of the pagan god Thor, and the ancient name for the hamlet, Thor’s Lee, either side of him. According to Norse mythology, Thor fought many fierce battles and this corner of Surrey has a strong war connection. During the Second World War, Allied troops trained for D-Day on the commons. The Ministry of Defence is still active here.
A word of caution, Thursley has in the past been used by the army. It has two old firing ranges. For this reason if you may see spent military artefacts. Please leave these alone they may be dangerous. Ideally, record the location on what3words and let us know, ideally send a photo.
“Just jammed into this Little Bunting at Thursley Common. It’s pretty mobile – exact details of the area it’s favouring are on @BirdGuides @SurreyBirdNews“Ed Stubbs – Twitter