Friday, 29 June 2012

Durlston Country Park

Another very impressive National Nature Reserve and country park to the west of Swanage town centre overlooking the bay. To date it’s the best public park I’ve been to in this country it really is a superb area. Even if you can’t visit the park their website knocks spots off most others. Every time we’ve visited there’s been something different to see.

Black Redstart
A rare Black Redstart (male). One of the circa 30 pairs that breed in Britain each year


Black Redstart
Black Redstart with a small caterpillar on it’s way back to the nest site


Early English Gentian
Early English Gentian

Early English Gentian
The rare Early English Gentian growing amongst the short grass close to the lighthouse.


Adders Tongue Fern
Another easily missed uncommon plant – Adder’s Tongue Fern

Early Spider Orchid
One of the rarest Orchids in Britain – the Early Spider Orchid

Durlston Head
Looking west towards Peveril Point from Durlston Head

Kidney Vetch
Kidney Vetch an important food source for the Adonis Blue growing on the seacliffs

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Higher Hyde Heath – part 2

In addition to the Dragonflies, Butterflies, Birds and heathland flora the main attraction at Higher Hyde Heath is the healthy population of the elusive Sand Lizard. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to see them before at Arne and closer to home at Ainsdale, they’ve been in so much cover its proved difficult to get a decent photograph.
DSC_0718Sand Lizard (male)

Sand Lizard (male)

DSC_1159Sand Lizard (female)

DSC_0583Sand Lizard (female)
As well as the Sand Lizards Higher Hyde heath also has plenty of Common Lizards. Grass snakes, Adders, Slow worms and even the rare Smooth Snake can also be found. A very impressive reserve hopefully next time we’ll have a bit more time to explore it. 
Common Lizard doing its best to control the horseflies

Basking Common Lizards (larger pale one is the female)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Higher Hyde Heath – part 1


An exceptional nature reserve managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Unfortunately at the time of our visit the tails around the heathland and bog were impassable due to the heavy rains and high water table. Therefore we explored the area around the bird hide, pond and what looked like a former builders yard.

P1050605-1Entrance sign to DWT Higher Hyde Heath (click and view larger photo for clearer text)


Green HairstreakGreen Hairstreak


Green Hairstreak (female) egg laying)


DSC_0617Female Downy Emerald Dragonfly drying its wings after recently emerging

Due to the flooded trails unfortunately we had to give the tiny Bog Orchids a miss (not that we would have found them), likewise the Sundews and the pale Butterwort. One of the locals did advise against exploring the heathland at this time of year because of the phenomenal number of ticks. One day we’ll return - armed with a bottle of Deet.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Dancing Ledge

A great area of chalk downland managed by the National Trust next to the SW Coast Path  -close to Langton Matravers.

Beneath the downland this part of the “Jurassic Coast” has a long history of quarrying. Although originally this must have been an incredibly destructive nowadays the former quarries are now valuable for their wildlife.

Wall Brown 

Adder (male 

Somebody once told me they can jump, as per a coiled spring. Although I wasn’t convinced I decide not too get too close – just in case.

If you select the photo you may be able to make out the Adder tasting the air.
Fortunately the Adder decided I didn’t “taste” like a mouse or vole so it lost interest and slithered away.

Nothing lasts for ever - Old quarry machinery, Langton Matravers 

Normally this field is home to the largest colony of Early Spider Orchids in the country. This year there wasn’t any to be found. Hopefully this was down to the lack of rainfall rather than the presence of Daisy

Dancing Ledge

Note the quarries cut into the side of the cliffs. Historically boats would have been loaded up with the Purbeck limestone and and floated off the ledge at high tide. Most of the stone was used in the expansion of London.

The quarries are now roosts for Greater Horseshoe Bats. Above the cliffs the numerous rabbit holes form part of the most southerly colony of Puffins in the UK.

Rockpool on Dancing Ledge

Snakeslock Anemones in a former post hole

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Green-winged Orchids

Not many posts recently due a 2 week break down south based just outside Corfe Castle, Dorset. The sheer diversity of wildlife in such a small area is incredible. Hopefully I’ll be able to illustrate some of the highlights over the next few posts.

Green-winged Orchid at Corfe Mullen Meadow, Dorset

Cowslips at Durlston Country Park, Dorset

Another Green-winged Orchid at Corfe Mullen

Bluebells and Ramsons at Kilwood Nature Reserve

Woodland floor at Kilwood