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.

Birdwatchers have been visiting Staines Moor for over a century and 190 species have now been recorded. Four Red List species currently breed - Cuckoo, Skylark, Song Thrush and Linnet. During the winter, wildfowl from the reservoirs such as Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall 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.