Friends of Thursley Common (NNR)

Protecting and preserving the Reserve
IF you see smoke CALL 999 do not hesitate. You will not be wasting the fire services time.
Do not light a fire Do not use any form of BBQ No smoking on or around the reserve – Thank You

What you can see at Thursley NNR

Taken at the Moat in early August 2022 –

Anax imperator – Female Emperor Dragonfly

Taken from the boardwalk that links to Pine Island in early August 2022 –

Sympetrum danae or Black Darter

Taken on the Original Boardwalk in 2019.

Orthetrum cancellatum or Black-tailed Skimmer

Taken at the Moat in early August 2022 –

Pyrrhosoma nymphula or Large Red Damselfly

Taken on the board walk in 2019. On a sunny day, if you walk slowly and quietly on the boardwalk you can often see lizards sunning themselves to capture the heat. In this case the Common Lizard or Zootoca vivipara. If you see a bright green lizard that is the much rarer Sand Lizard.

Taken on the board walk in 2019. On a sunny day, if you walk slowly and quietly on the boardwalk you might see the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) . The raft spider, is a semi-aquatic spider. It inhabits Ponds, Bogs, lowland fen and grazing marsh areas and is dependent on the presence of standing or slow moving neutral to alkaline water. Within these areas it can be found on the margins of pools or ditches. Emergent vegetation is highly important for use as perches for hunting and basking and to support nursery webs. As a warmth loving species they avoid areas where water surfaces are shaded. Adults sit at the edge of the water, or on floating vegetation, with their front legs resting on the water’s surface in order to feel for the vibrations of potential prey. Using the surface tension of the water, they chase out on to the water to catch their prey, which will even include tadpoles or small fish. Raft Spiders will also swim underwater, often diving beneath the surface when threatened..

A female Emperor dragonfly laying eggs in the Moat in August 2022. The nymphs are fearsome creatures.

Round-leaved sundewDrosera rotundifolia. Can be seen from the boardwalk to pine island. The carnivorous lifestyle of the round-leaved sundew makes this heathland plant a fascinating species. It is a strange and beautiful plant that can be found sitting among the soggy sphagnum mosses at the shores of bog pools, on wet heaths and peaty moors. A tiny, slender plant, it stands out from the crowd because of its diet. Hair-like tendrils on each reddish leaf are tipped with glistening droplets that attract passing insects. But this ‘dew’ is very sticky, trapping the insect; the sundew’s tendrils detect the presence of its stuck prey and curl inwards to engulf it. Eventually, the whole leaf wraps around the insect which is digested. The acidic habitats the round-leaved sundew lives in don’t provide enough nutrients, so it has evolved this carnivorous way of life to supplement its diet.

Cinnabar moth caterpillars can be seen munching away on yellow-flowered ragwort, and their bold black-and-gold stripes make them easy to identify.  As well as being the cinnabar caterpillar’s main food plant, ragwort supports more than 40 other insect species and is an important source of nectar.  It is also toxic and well known for its potential to poison horses and other livestock if eaten, particularly via contaminated hay.  The toxins within the growing plant make it so bitter and unpalatable that it is usually avoided but the cinnabar caterpillars feast upon ragwort without ill effect.  They actually benefit from its toxicity by eating enough of it to become toxic themselves, and their colourful stripes are a warning to predators: I’m poisonous and taste terrible, don’t try to eat me.

You can often see deer on the common.

It has been difficult to see the wildfowl with the board walk needing to be rebuilt. Now that access is back to normal and the machinary/noise has gone we will see birds returning in 2023.

Marsh Clubmoss Lycopodiella inundata is a living fossil, a type of Fern, which first appeared on our planet 400 million years ago, thriving during the Silurian and Carboniferous eras. It is virtually unchanged from the plants our vertebrate ancestors would have seen when they first emerged from the oceans. 

The species was once widespread across the extensive heathlands and wet mires in the UK; but as these habitats were destroyed over the last two centuries these populations became more fragmented and eventually most were wiped out. Thankfully it survives at Thursley one of only 70 sites in the UK.

Bladderwort Utricularia Vulgaris is a native oxygenator. An interesting, native, carnivorous, pond plant that supplements its diet with small aquatic insects. The bladders, which are clearly visible, are sophisticated traps. They contain a vacuum and prey trigger the trap which sucks them into the bladder.

  • It produces flowers in summer which are similar to small, yellow snapdragons.
  • It survives the winter by producing special buds (turions). These buds sink to the bottom of the pond before rising again in the spring.
  • Prefers slightly acidic water which makes Thursley the perfect habitat.