Ownership: ARC / Ferndown Golf Course / Diocese of Salisbury

Designation: SSSI, SAC, SPA, Ramsar

Restrictions: Open Access Land please keep dogs on a lead

Access: Barrack Road

Grid ref: SZ 09420 99363

The Reserve

Located not far from Hurn airport Parley Common is a large area of heathland totalling 107 Hectares. The Common would have once been part of a much larger complex of heathland joining together the nearby St Catherines Hill and Ferndown Common but due to urbanization these areas now remain isolated. Parley Common from the southern end mainly consists of wet heath and heading north grades into a fantastic stretch of humid and then dry heath. The Common spans the area from West Parley  to the relatively new Tricketts Cross estate. Parley Common is home to all six native species of reptile all of which are in abundance throughout the reserve, this Is due to the Commons large areas of prime habitat; extensive south facing dry heath with dry exposed sandy areas ideal for sand lizards and slow worms, wet to dry heath interfaces which are perfect areas for common lizards and smooth snakes, scrubby boundaries loved by adders and a small stream that runs along the eastern edge that is frequented by grass snakes.

A Little History

In the 1600s Parley Common was divided into distinctive long and narrow strips. The reason was that a principal product was turf for fuel. With some areas being wetter and poorer than others, the strips gave everyone a fair share. One of them was nearly 2 miles long and only 22 yards wide. Parley Common has been the site of some interesting firsts. In Heathlands (Collins, 1986) Professor Nigel Webb says that Parley Common is 'renowned for the numerous rare species that have been found there.' It was at Parley Common in the late 19th century that the now extinct Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus) was first discovered. The Large Bagworm (Pachythelia villosella) and the Ringed Carpet (Cleora cincaria) were also first discovered here, as was the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), which was first recorded in Britain on Parley Heath in 1853. But it was the discovery of the Speckled Footman (Coscinia cribraria) in 1820 that really put Parley Common on the map. Other oddities for the reserve include the first possible record of ground nesting peregrine falcons and, pre- construction of the Tricketts Cross estate, Ladybird Spider (Eresus sandaliatus) records exist.

Species you might spot:


Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)  

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara

Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis

Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix

Adder (Vipera berus


Common Toad (Bufo bufo

Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus

Common Frog (Rana temporaria


Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Hobby (Falco subbutteo)

Wood Lark (Lullula arborea)


Silver Studded Blue (Plebejus argus)

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Grayling (Hipparchia semele)


Southern Hawker (Aeshna cynea)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

This is by no means a comprehensive list of species on the reserve.