Strensall Common is a large area of lowland heathland in the York area, primarily on acidic sandy soils and has a range of habitats such as wet and dry grassland, scattered birch, gorse and pine, heather and scattered ponds and marshy areas. The southern part is more open with mown and rough grassland which is used for the firing ranges, but with some areas of open birch and pine woodland. This diversity has meant it has been recognised as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) for its populations of nationally important insects and plants.
The nature reserve supports a mosaic of wet heath, dry heath, mire, open water, woodland and acid grassland. Over 150 plant species grow here including marsh cinquefoil, the beautiful blue marsh gentian and carnivorous round-leaved sundew. Ling heather and cross-leaved heath turn the heathland purple in August. Less showy, but just as pretty are the flowers found within some of the drier grassland; pinky-red sheep’s sorrel and the tiny white crosses of heath bedstraw can be seen if you look closely.
Bold Southern hawker dragonflies patrol sheltered sunny areas and common lizards lazily bask on the old birch stumps. The Common is home to a host of insects including a nationally important population of dark-bordered beauty moth. Green and purple hairstreak butterflies occur here and bog bush-cricket live in the rushy grassland. Birds using the site include woodlark, green woodpecker, stonechat, coal and willow tits. Cuckoo breed and hobby sightings are increasing.
More information from
York Ornithological Club
Freshwater Habitats Trust
Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire
Cared for by:
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Ministry of Defence
Things to help out with here:
Butterfly and moth recording. Pond life recording. Nature Reserve Management
More than one organization undertakes activities involving volunteers at this site