Size: 11.82 hectares

% of total SSSI area: 2.91%

Designated features: Orange Birds-foot, Dwarf Pansy

General Description

Situated at the southern and south-western tip of Bryher respectively the whole site comprises of a low exposed granite hill, backed by a small sand dune and dune grassland system that overlies a storm boulder beach.  The area between Rushy Bay and Great Porth are particularly important for the very rare Dwarf Pansy, a plant which grows on Scilly and nowhere else in Britain. The dune grassland also supports abundant Sand Sedge, Sheep’s Sorrel, Buck’s-horn Plantain, Sea Stork’s-bill and the nationally scarce Sea Spurge, Portland Spurge and Western Clover. The dunes that back the storm beach are dominated by Marram Grass and Sea Holly, in addition to Sea Kale at the back of Stony Porth. The exposed summit of Heathy Hill supports a small area of ‘waved’ heath, where the nationally rare Orange Bird’s-foot occurs together with the Small Adder’s-tongue and Autumn Lady’s-tresses.

Practical Management

The most important management technique at Rushy Bay is livestock grazing which maintains the very short sward which species such as Dwarf Pansy and Orange Bird’s-foot require. However, since the winter storms of 2014 the establishment and surprisingly rapid spread of Hottentot Fig has occurred which we are now controlling annually through initial removal, followed up by control of new regrowth from seedlings and roots. Over the coming years scrub removal from the summit of Heathy Hill and within the dunes at the back of Rushy Bay will be required to prevent European Gorse from dominating the vegetation and to maintain the diversity of wildflower species, along with the need to reduce the low-lying Bramble and Honeysuckle scrub from around the tors to increase the amount of maritime grassland on the site too.