Thurstaston Common

Thurstaston Common is situated 3 km north west of Heswall and is underlain by Triassic sandstone.

Podzolic soils have developed over the sandstone which support characteristic heathland vegetation including wet heath, dry heath, acidic marshy grassland arid birch-oak woodland.

Thurstaston Common is the largest and best remaining example of a lowland heathland in Merseyside. It is similar in character to Heswall Dales, but its larger size and the fact that it contains better examples of wet and dry heath gives it pre-eminence over the Heswall site.

The majority of the heath is dominated by Heather (Calluna vulgaris) with Bilberry, Wavy hair- Grass, Gorse, Heath Grass (Danthonia decumbens), Tormentil, Hairy Sedge (Carex hirta), Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera) and Heath Bedstraw also commonly found. This dry heath community grades into an assemblage of Bell Heather (Erica cinerea) and Western Gorse (Ulex gallii) in the driest areas of the heathland.

Wet heath and acidic marshy grassland occurs in damp peaty hollows. The wet heath is characterised by Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) and Purple Moor-grass with Heath Rush, Common and Hare’s-tail Cotton Grass, Deer Grass (Trichophorum cespitosum), Bog moss (Sphagnum compactum), Bog Asphodel and Bulbous Rush also common components of this community.

These wetter areas contain the most interesting assemblages of plants including Oblong-leaved Sundew (Drosera intermedia), a species with a very local distribution, as well as Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). The acidic marshy grassland is dominated by Purple Moor-grass with Hard Rush, Soft Rush and Heath Rush also commonly found.

The open heathland is being invaded by birch, both Silver and Downy Birch, in many areas. This is the initial phase in the succession from open heathland to birch-oak woodland which is well developed on the eastern side of the site. Holly, Rowan and Aspen are common in this birch-oak woodland community.

Thurstaston Common provides an important habitat for passage, wintering and breeding birds. Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Redpoll and Linnet are amongst the birds known to regularly breed on the site.

English Nature citation details

Date Notified: 4 June 1986
File Ref: SJ 28/3
County: Merseyside
Site Name: Thurstaston Common
District: Wirral
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Local Planning Authority: Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
National Grid Reference: SJ 245 851
Area: 70.8 ha. 174.9 ac.
Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50,000: 108 1:10,000: SJ 28 SW, NW R NE
Date Notified (Under 1949 Act): 1954 Date of Last Revision: 1977
Date Notified (Under 1981 Act): 1983 Date of Last Revision: 1986

Other Information:

1. Boundary also revised 1965.

2. Site boundary changed at 1983 renotification of deletion of Royden Park.

3. Site previously known as Thurstaston Common and Royden Park (pre 1983).

4. Site extended in 1986 to include the Tenacre Wood area