Area: 53.9 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Common Moor, East Putford is one of a few remnant sites for a type of wet heathland restricted to North Devon and Pembrokeshire. These heathlands characteristically have a composite nature where wet and dry heathland communities are interspersed with tall herb fen. The site supports a diverse invertebrate fauna.
The Moor lies some 12 km southwest of Bideford and 5 km southeast of Woolfardisworthy. To the north, it is nearly flat (155 m) but the site rises southwards onto a ridge (171 m) before falling away again. The Moor rests on the shales of the Crackington Formation which are part of the Culm measure series of Carboniferous age, and the soils range from gleyed brown earths on better drained sections of the ridge through stagnoleys with humose and peaty topsoils to Sphagnum derived peats.
The major part of the Common Moor consists of wet grassy heath. This is dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, heather Calluna vulgaris, western gorse Ulex gallii and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix. The lichen Cladonia impexa forms an integral part of the ground cover. Typical associated species are bell heather Erica cinerea, heath spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata, lesser butterfly orchid Platanthera bifolia, saw-wort Serratula tinctoria, meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis, petty whin Genista anglica and tormentil Potentilla erecta. This community grades into dry heath on the drier parts of the ridge, with frequent bristle bent Agrostis curtisii and gorse Ulex europaeus scrub.
At the north-eastern end of the site lies a small area of open bog pools. These are surrounded by carpets of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp with associated species such as bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata, round-leaved sundew Drosera rotundifolia, common cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and common sedge Carex nigra. There are also two areas of wet grassy rush heath at either side of the moor, dominated by large tussocks of purple moor-grass with soft rush Juncus effusus and sharp-flowered rush J. acutiflorus as sub-dominants. Other species characteristic of this community are common valerian Valeriana officinalis, wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, lesser skullcap Scutellaria minor, tufted hair-grass Deschampsia cespitosa and compact rush Juncus conglomeratus. There are a number of willow bushes Salix spp scattered throughout the site and a lichen of western distribution, Usnea articulata, can be found hanging from the branches of several bushes.
A rich invertebrate fauna has been recorded here including the local marsh fritillary Eyphydryas aurinea and marbled white Melanargia galathea butterflies, the nationally rare cranefly Limnophila abdominalis and the nationally scarce longhorn beetle Strangalia quadrifasciata.