Staines Moor is a large area of alluvial meadow that has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, along with two adjacent reservoirs (King George IV Reservoir and Staines Reservoir). The moor covers 117 hectares (290 acres) and the whole SSSI covers some 515 hectares (1270 acres). The moor is managed by Spelthorne Borough Council in partnership with the Moormasters (see below). Map:
Staines Moor is one of the last remaining pastures of the medieval Manor of Staines. Originally a clearing in the Forest of Windsor it has remained unploughed for over 1,000 years and has been registered common land since 1065. Registered commoners, who must live in the old parish of Staines, are entitled to graze one horse or two cattle on the moor but may assign their right to other commoners. The grazing is managed by elected representatives of the commoners, known as Moormasters.
Staines Moor is one of England’s largest areas of neutral grassland that has never been extracted for gravel or agriculturally improved. Because chalky residue brought down by the Colne mixes with the silty Thames Valley soil during times of flood, the moor has acquired a unique ecostructure, with a rich and diverse flora including plants not found elsewhere in Surrey. Grazing by cattle and horses helps to this flora. The moor is crossed by the Colne and Wraysbury rivers and also features ponds, ditches, marsh, scrub and woodland. The large reservoirs on either side of the moor help to attract wildlife to the area. An assessment of the habitat can be found here.
190 bird species have been recorded at Staines Moor. The Moor supports a large population of wintering wildfowl, which frequently includes Goosander on the River Colne along with Teal and Wigeon. White-fronted Geese have also been recorded. Little Egret are now regularly seen along the Colne, along with the usual Grey Heron, and in 2002 a Great White Egret dropped in.
Apart from resident Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, raptors include Hobby in summer and Red Kite, Common Buzzard and harriers on passage.
Lapwing and Redshank breed on the moor in small numbers and the moor regularly supports a large flock of wintering Golden Plover. Other wading birds, such as Redshank, Ruff, Common Snipe and Dunlin, travel between the moor and the adjacent reservoirs in winter. Bar-tailed Goldwit, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper have all been recored on passage.
In recent years the moor has held up to six wintering Short-eared Owls and has had the occasional visit from Barn Owl and Little Owl.
Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin are regularly seen on passage — sometimes in large numbers. Good numbers of Water Pipit are regularly seen in winter and Tree Pipit are occasionally encountered on passage. Yellow Wagtail can often be seen around the cattle on passage and in late summer.
Whinchat and Wheatear can be seen on passage, and in winter look out for Stonechat, Fieldfare and Redwing.
Cetti’s Warbler are now regularly seen, and all the usual migrant warblers can be seen in summer. Wintering Firecrest are increasingly common.
Red-backed Shrike and Great Grey Shrike are occasionally seen, but the site’s star bird has been 2009’s long-staying Brown Shrike — the first ever UK inland record for this Asian species that normally winters in India.
Other birds to look out for at appropriate times of year include (in no particular order, as they say on television talent shows) Garganey, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Skylark, Spotted Flycatcher, Redpoll, Mediterranean Gull, Stock Dove, Woodlark, Tree Sparrow and Redpoll.
Mammals, reptiles and amphibians
Eleven species of mammals have apparently been recorded at Staines Moor. Anybody know what they are?
Although Staines Moor has not been well studied for invertebrates it does support Britain’s oldest known anthills of Yellow Meadow Ant (Lasius flavus), some of which are estimated to be 180 years old. In addition over 60 species of mollusc have been recorded from the meadows and ditches while the areas of open water and fen support several species of dragonfly and damselfly. 22 species of butterfly have been recorded.
If arriving by car, the best place to head for is the northern end of the site. Leave the M25 at Junction 14 and take the small local road to Stanwell Moor (next exit after A3113). At a bend by a pub, turn right into Hithermoor Road and park when the banks of the King George VI Reservoir come into view. Follow the concrete footpath south by the reservoir fence, fork right through a kissing gate after 200m or so, past fields with ponds, to the open moor. Some parking is also available in a layby near the A30 bridge at the south end of the moor. You can also pay to park in Staines and walk north.
If using public transport, head for Staines town centre by bus or train (the railway station is served by trains connecting London Waterloo with Windsor, Weybridge and Reading) and then ask a local the way.
By Act of Parliament the public have a right of access to the common for “air and exercise”. Although the whole of the Moor is available to walk on, routes are very dependent on the state of the ground, which can be very wet and may flood in winter. Waterproof footwear is recommended at all times. The moor is unfortunately not practical for wheelchair or pushchair users.
Food and drink are available to the north of the site at the Anchor public house (Horton Road, Stanwell Moor, Staines TW19 6AQ) and to the south at the Swan Inn (Moor Lane, Staines TW19 6EB). There are also many pubs and restaurants in Staines town centre and the odd shop in Stanwell Moor.
This page has been prepared from various internet sources by someone who has never been to the site but thinks that it deserves a page on this website because it keeps cropping up on the Latest News page. If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update this information. Please!