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Yateley Common NNR 

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Male Silver-Studded Blue on Bell Heather

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Common Lizard 

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Yateley Common

 

Extensive heathland complex with areas of open heather, gorse, birch and oak woodland

 

About the site

 

Yateley Common plays an important role in nature conservation and is protected under UK and EU law. It is also a vital recreational resource for the local community and visitors to the area.

Much of the common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area (SPA) because of its importance for wildlife.

Visitors can explore and discover more about Yateley Common on our 1.25mile Nature Trail, download a copy of the trail , along with rubbing sheet by visiting our walks page.

It has a dense network of bridleways with many smaller paths. We ask horse riders to use designated bridleways and walkers to keep to paths. This prevents our ground nesting birds from being disturbed.

 

The wide variety of habitats on Yateley Common Country Park make it suitable for a range of wildlife. The areas of heathland consist of three types of heather - ling, bell heather and cross-leaved heath - along with common and dwarf gorse. These areas support a variety of specialised heathland wildlife. This includes many breeding birds of European importance, like nightjars, Dartford warblers and stonechats.

 

The heathland on the common is warm and sandy, which makes it an ideal home for insects and reptiles. These include the heath potter wasp, the viviparous lizard and adders. The common also supports a variety of butterflies, like the silver studded blue and the grayling.

Many interesting flowers, such as bee orchids and carline thistle, grow on the grassland areas to the west of the site. In spring bluebells and wood anemones carpet old wooded hedge banks and the distinctive song of the nightingale is often heard alongside more common species, such as the garden warbler and chaffinch.

 

The ponds and lakes on the common are particularly important for many scarce dragonflies and damselflies, including the black darter and downy emerald. Six species of notable water beetles are also present.

To preserve the heathland habitat we have to remove large areas of scrub and trees that would block out the valuable wildlife. After clearing an area it is often necessary to scrape off the nutrient rich layer of topsoil. Heather cannot compete with other plants when soil conditions improve because it adapts to poor soils.

 

Once an area is scraped the heather can regenerate from the seeds remaining in the soil. Bracken control is another important aspect of our heathland management work.

 

As well as preserving the heathland, we also maintain several habitats and vegetation

Dragonflies and Damselflies are very common around the lakes

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Stonechats can be seen flying over the tops of the Heather and Gorse

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Grayling Butterflies can be seen in the late summer over the Bell and Ling Heather. 

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Dartford Warblers are very hard to spot but you would be well rewarded if you see one.