Size : 107 Hectares

Ownership: ARC / Ferndown Golf Course / Diocese of Salisbury

Designation: SSSI, SAC, SPA, Ramsar

Restrictions: Open Access Land please keep dogs on a lead and keep to main
paths. Horse riding and cycling is only permitted on statutory bridleways. No camping or fires

Access: Barrack Road,
Ferndown BH22 8NL

Grid ref: SZ 09420 99363

Parley Common is a large piece of heath of historical firsts a great place to visit see some true wildlife rarities.

The Reserve

Located not far from Hurn airport Parley Common the reserve 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. In the 1600s Parley Common was divided into distinctive long and narrow strips to extract peat turf for fuel. With some areas being wetter and poorer than others, the strips allowed for a fair share of peat, resulting in one strip being nearly 2 miles long and but only 22 yards wide.

What to see

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 which make ideal habitats 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. Frogs, toads and newts frequent the wetter areas.

The reserve 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 butterfly (Cyaniris semiargus) was first discovered. The large bagworm (Pachythelia villosella) and the ringed carpet moth (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 moth (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, where records of sightings of the ladybird spider (Eresus sandaliatus) exist.