Area: 114.6 hectares.

Other Information:
Originally notified in 1979 as a combined site with Redmoor. A Cornwall Trust for Nature Conservation Nature Reserve.
Site extended at this revision.

Description and Reasons for Notification:

Breney Common lies 5 km to the south of Bodmin in a shallow basin underlain by granite with alluvial deposits. Former tin streaming activity has resulted in a diverse wetland area with extensive willow carr, a series of ponds in various stages of succession, together with a hummock-hollow complex of heath, acid grassland and scrub. In addition there is a large area of wet heath with acid bog communities. Numerous streams drain across the site.

Grey willow Salix cinerea dominates the structurally divere carr which has a rich epiphytic lichen and bryophyte flora and a varied ground flora. Of particular note amongst the many fern species are large stands of royal fern Osmunda regalis and narrow buckler fern Dryopteris carthusiana which are scarce in southern Britain. More open areas support typical bog species such as common cotton-grass Eriophorum augustifolium and bogbean Menyanthes trifoliate together with some notable local rarities such as bottle sedge Carex rostrata and marsh cinquefoil Potentilla palustris and the nationally rare ivy-leaved bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea.

Heathland communities occur to the south of Breney Common and on Lowertown Moor. Drier areas support purple moor grass Molinia caerulea, bell heather Erica cinerea and heather Calluna vulgaris with scattered western gorse Ulex gallii and bristle bent Agrostis curtisii. Wet heath is more extensive with cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, the bog mosses Sphagnum spp, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum and large populations of heath spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata.

The ponds show a range of successional stages from open water with well structured floating, aquatic and emergent marginal vegetation, to well developed bogs formed by siltation. Bog pondweed Potamogeton polygonifolius, broad-leaved pondweel P. natana and spiked water-milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum dominate the aquatic flora, whilst tall marginal vegetation includes branched burr-reed Sparganium erectum, bulrush Typha latifolia and water horsetail Equisetum fluviatile. Marsh St John’s-wort Hypericum elodes and the uncommon lesser marshwort Apium inundatum occur on the pond edges. Of particular note in the acid bog pools is pillwort Pilularia globulifera and western bladderwort Utricularia minor both of which are rare nationally.

In addition to these major habitats there are tracts of unimproved acid grassland dominated by sheeps fescue Festuca ovina with Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus, heath-grass Danthonia decumbens, tormentil Potentilla erecta and Devils’-bit scabious Succisa pratensis.

These diverse wetland habitats support a very rich fauna, with some notable rarities. Thirteen species of Odonata occur here including four-spotted libellula Libellula quadrimaculata, emperor dragonfly Anax imperator and black sympetrum Sympetrum scoticum. Of particular importance is the occurrence of the nationally rare small red damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum.

Notable butterfly species include pearl-bordered fritillary Boloria euphrosyne and marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia. In addition three rare moth species breed here; double line Mythimna turca, silver hook Eustrotia uncula and double kidney Ipimorpha retusa. Breney Common also supports a very rare and threatened mollusc, Lymnaea glabra.

Notable amongst a large number of breeding bird species are lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca, tree pipit Anthus trivialis, curlew Numenius arquata, willow tit Parus montanus and nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus.

Site Notified to Secretary of State on 31 October 1986