Hills Local Nature Reserve
Managed by the
SSSI, 13 acres.
Types of Habitat: dry and humid heath, wildlife pond, fringing
and Access: from the end of Sharp Road, Parkstone, or Sainsburys car
park, Alder Hills.
for: heathland species including all six British Reptiles,
The History of the Reserve
This unusual reserve is set in the
middle of a highly urban area, and the large pond is itself an
industrial relic, having developed from a flooded clay pit abandoned in
surrounding heathland is a tiny relic of the Great Heath which once
stretched from Christchurch to Dorchester. The clay from the Alder Hills
pits went to make many of the drainage pipes used as Bournemouth grew.
The largest claypit was filled in the 1950s to provide the land where
the Sharp road industrial site was built, and the 1980s saw proposals to
develop the remaining heath and pond area.
Local residents combined to
save the site, and in 1984 it was designated as a SSSI.
At the end of
the 1980s Sainsburys bought the land and built a store adjacent to the
reserve. In 1990 they donated the land to Poole Borough Council, and
generously provided funds for the Dorset Wildlife Trust to manage the
land as the Alder Hills Nature Reserve.
Inside the Reserve
The pond's remarkably pure water plays host
to Newts, Frogs, Toads and 13 different species of Dragonfly. It's wildlife also includes a good variety of birds
visiting to feed and nest around the pond. Kingfishers, Woodcock and
Cormorants are known to use the site, and Finches and Warblers breed in
the fringe of carr woodland around the water's edge.
The heathland areas on the rising slope to the North of the pond are
ideally situated to provide the warm sunny conditions loved by reptiles,
and both the Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard may be seen basking here in
Emperor Moth breeds here, and the sandy banks are home to Mining Bees
and parasitic Sand Wasps. Heathland colours are provided by Ling, Bell
Heather and Cross Leaved Heath, with splashes of yellow from Western
Gorse and Broom.
As with most heathland sites, the floral diversity is
poor, but interesting casual plants such as White Melilot often appear
on the fringes and paths.
Wildlife and the Community
Involvement from the local community
has helped to keep this vital refuge for threatened wildlife intact, and
the local management committee for the reserve has maintained this link.
Visitors are welcome, but are asked to use the reserve sensibly and with
regard for its wildlife.
to the paths to prevent erosion.
Don't light fires, and dispose of cigarettes with care.
remove animals or plants.
Dug in the 1920’s to
supply clay to the local pottery industry, Alder Hills Fishery is a two
and a half acre lake. Extraction came to an end in 1948 and the flooded
clay pit has become home to a variety of fish and other wildlife.
For those who wish to
enjoy the natural fishing of the lake Borough of Poole Leisure Services
unit issues a limited number of annual
fishing permits. The lake is low stock and is known to be “hard to fish”.
It will not be restocked due to its designation as a SSSI.
information and a Fishing Permit Application Form is available from