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Newtown Common

Newtown Common is owned by Hampshire County Council with Newtown Parish Council having responsibility for maintenance of its variety of habitats and landscapes for wildlife and people to enjoy. It is registered common land and sixteen properties have common rights.
For details see Summary of Registered Common Rights

The common is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation with a wide range of heathland and woodland plants and animals. The mixture of open heath, together with areas of pine and oak woodland and birch scrub on the common gives a variety from which many species benefit.

The heathland areas of Newtown Common are mainly composed of dwarf shrub heath. This is mainly ling heather, dwarf gorse and purple moor grass but bracken is also present. Two small wet flushes occur on the common which provide a home for sphagnum mosses and species such as heath spotted orchid, common skullcap and marsh violet amongst others.


Roe deer and muntjacs are quite numerous, adders and common lizards can be seen basking in the sun while, grass-snakes, slow-worms and toads may also be found. Palmate newts have been recorded on the adjacent Burghclere common and may be present on Newtown.

 

Emperor moth caterpillar

 

The range of insects includes many woodland butterflies such as purple hairstreak, silver studded blue and the spectacular silver-washed fritillary. Emperor moth caterpillars have been recorded from Newtown common in the 1990s but not since. Current management by mowing of heathland areas is intended to provide more favourable habitat for these species.

Ground-nesting nightjars are found on the common most summers, after their migration from Africa. Two pairs are thought to have nested on the eastern common in 2013. Like nightjars, woodcock are ground-nesting and several pairs are thought to nest on Newtown common. Scrub management work is intended to expand nesting and feeding areas for these birds, while restrictions on loose dogs during the spring and summer months is intended to prevent, or at least reduce, disturbance to these fragile species.

Other birds to look out for include dartford warblers, tree pipits, wood larks, green woodpeckers and birds of prey including buzzard, kite, sparrowhawk and kestrel. Ravens are frequently seen over the Common.

Newtown Common contains one of the surviving fragments of lowland heathland in this area along with Burghclere, Earlstone, Greenham, Snelsmore and Bucklebury commons. Lowland heathland is an important habitat which is eligible for a government grant to help with conservation. For more information see the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme page.