Dowrog Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (or SSSI) in Pembrokeshire. It is a large lowland heath 3km northeast of St Davids with a wealth of wildflowers, birds and insects. It has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1954 and it is also part of the north-west Pembrokeshire Commons Special Area for Conservation (SAC). The land is leased from the National Trust by the Wildlife Trust, who are dedicated to its conservation.
Pembrokeshire heaths tend to form an intricate mosaic of dry and wet heath mixed with acid grassland and fen as well as pools. These diverse habitats attract a huge variety of plant and animal life including over 350 species of flowers. Several rarities are Yellow Centaury, Pale Dog-violet, Wavy St. John’s Wort, Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Three-lobed Crowfoot and Pilwort. Some of these are very tiny and may take some scrupulous searching, but the array of more common wild flowers in mid-summer is wonderful.
Taking a trip along the lane on Google Earth, you can see clumps of orchids on the verge and gorgeous Palamino ponies grazing in the distance. You can wander the lane for real and see the best of the species without tramping about on the heath.
A network of small freshwater pools – some of which have been excavated manually – are ideal breeding sites for insects and on summer afternoons more than 10 species of dragonfly and damselfly (both belonging to the Order of Odonata) flit around the area including Emperor and Golden Ringed dragonflies. Devil’s Bit Scabious is the only food which proves palatable for the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly caterpillars which find a niche here. The young butterflies are brightly coloured but fade to brownish tones after a few days. Another scarce butterfly is the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.
Winter is the best time to see birds of prey here. Over most recent years there has been a roost of Hen Harriers. Although they take care to settle in a boggy and inaccessible part of the reserve, you can spot them through binoculars during late afternoon in mid winter. You might also catch sight of a Barn Owl or Short-eared Owl and the small hawk, Merlin often puts in an appearance.
Dowrog Pool supports populations of Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Mallard in winter, and other freshwater-loving birds such as Snipe, Water Rail, Coot and Moorhen thrive here. Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler also nest in the vegetation on the wetland areas. See our sections on Inland and Fresh Water birds.
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