Ham Common lies within the Hamworthy area in the west of the Borough of Poole. It is located along the northern shoreline of Poole Harbour, and is boarded to the north by Rockley Caravan Park, and to the west by Hamworthy Royal Marine base. Other names for the site include Rockley Point and Hamworthy Lake.
Ham Common SSSI covers a total of 41 hectares, however 9 hectares of this forms Ham Hill which is located to the north of Ham Common and is enclosed in the Marine Base. The remaining 32 hectares covers the area known as Ham Common, 24 hectares of which is heathland or bog, the remaining being open water and scrub.
Site description / habitats.
Ham Common is an isolated fragment of semi-natural lowland heathland, which once covered the whole of the Bournemouth and Poole area. The topography of Ham Common is varied due to the large-scale extraction that has occurred on site. This gives a large number of south facing slopes beneficial for reptiles. In the centre of the site is a large lake which is mainly fresh water, but there is a small amount of salt water present. Remnants of the original heathland lie to the north of the site. It is a site of remarkable habitat variety, comprising large compartments of dry heath on higher elevations, with significant areas of humid and wet heath, bogs and flushes. There are also areas of mature carr, open amenity grassland and open water surrounded by fringing aquatic vegetation.
The habitats found on Ham Common are;
- Bog and flush.
- Coastal fringe communities - beach.
- Disturbed ground.
- Dry acid dwarf shrub heath.
- Humid heath.
- Open water.
- Scrub communities.
- Wet heath.
This site comprises the workings and immediate surroundings of a disused clay quarry. The central clay pit has flooded to form the lake. Remnants of the original heathland lies to the north of the site.
Owners and managers.
90% of the common is owned by the Borough of Poole. The rest, a strip of land to the north east and east, is owned by the Herpetological Conservation Trust. This is evident by the fencing around most of the area, and wooded posts in a line across the lake.
Ham Common was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI ) on the 11th November 1987, and is also a Local Nature Reserve ( LNR ).