Our special habitats
The Little Pond is an important site which supports a wide range of habitats including dry and wet heath, ponds, reedbeds, alder carr (an ‘alder wooded fen’) and a range of transitional phases from open heath to secondary coniferous (planted) and deciduous woodland.
Although our predominant habitat is heathland, our management plan is to promote a mosaic of habitats to encourage a variety of different flora and fauna.
The Little Pond is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England (SSSI) for its rare heathland habitat, as well as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its internationally important rare and vulnerable species of birds.
Our sandy heathland has evolved over many years. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, local people (commoners) used to graze their animals here and come to cut bracken and wood, thus creating a virtually treeless landscape. Many unique plants and wildlife developed as a result of this process.
Help protect our heathland
During the dry weather our heathland is at great risk from fire. Please leave your barbecues at home and take care if smoking.
Sadly, in July 2010, a fire burnt on the heath for ten days destroying 148 acres heathland and its residents too.
Looking after our habitats
To keep all our wonderful habitats in tip top condition, they need a helping hand. If we didn’t cut or slow down the succession of scrub and young trees, the area would change rapidly into woodland.
Our dedicated team of trusted volunteers help us with this never ending task.
A few heathland facts
- Heathland is a rare and threatened habitat which depends on continual management to keep it clear of invasive plant species such as rhododendron, birch and pine
- The main flowering plants are purple heathers and fragrant bright yellow gorse
- Rare ground nesting birds (nightjar and woodlark) nest from May to September. During this time, we ask dog walkers to keep their dogs on a lead or under control and out of the heather
- Scaly reptiles (snakes and sand lizards) thrive in this environment
- Beautiful butterflies such as the silver-studded blue are at home here
The pond was created by in medieval times to provide fresh fish and water fowl for the Bishop of Winchester. It’s around 38 acres in size and is fed by two streams to the south of the pond. The main feeding stream rises in Churt, while the other smaller stream flows from an area of the common called the Flashes. This has a huge aquifer beneath it which sources the stream.
Our pond is home to a variety of wildfowl and a wonderful array of aquatic life, including dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, newts, toads and frogs.
The pond’s banks are fringed with yellow iris, purple loose-strife, reeds, rushes and sedges.
'Marginal fen' habitat
The flora around the pond is mainly common reed and could be referred to as a ‘marginal fen’ habitat.
This habitat supports some of our rarer birds - reed and sedge warblers and water rail. Migratory birds too - bittern and osprey.