Heathlands are dry, often sandy habitats found most often in southern Britain. Replaced by moorland further north, this habitat holds a range of species which are found nowhere else in Britain, and is often full of insect life in Summer.
Plants are fairly variable, but most heathlands consist of heaths or heathers, such as Dorset Heath, which gives the habitat it's name. Other plants include Gorse, Heath Spotted Orchid and Bracken. Heathlands sometimes contain trees, most often birches or conifirs. Vegitation is usually quite low, with large bushes rare, but if they do occur, they are usually gorse.
Many invertebrates are found nowhere else, and are restricted to this habitat, such as the Ladybird Spider, a small colourful spider found only on a few heaths in Dorset. Many insects inhabit heaths, such as the rare Purbeck Mason Wasp and Bagworm species, such as Sterrhopterix fusca, both of which are very rare in Britain. In spring, Emperor Moths are found in heathlands, with the males flying by day to females which release a pheromone. Other heathland insects include many Digger Wasps, such as Podalonia hirsuta, moth species, such as True Lover's Knot and Latticed Heath, many dragon and damselflies, as well as many others. Dragon and damselflies are often abundant in the acid pools in most heathlands, and while it may appear there are no pools, dragonflies will often still be seen. Heathland dragonflies include the Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Emperor Dragonfly. Due to the large amount of flowering plants, Honey and Bumblebees are often plentiful.
While at first glance it appears there are few birds, there are several species about. Feeding on the rich numbers of dragonflies will be hobbies in Summer, which are often seen on heaths. Many passerines also make home here, including Stonechats which can be seen sat atop gorse, Dartford Warblers which are a heathland specalists and Wheatears which can be in large numbers in summer. Other birds include larks and pipits.
Heathlands are the best habitat to see reptiles, with Adders often seen basking on early mornings, as well as being the only habitat with a good chance of seeing Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes, both rare British reptiles. Common Lizards are often abundant on heathlands, often heard scuttling off through the bracken. While Grass Snakes are often fairly rare on heaths, they do occur, and sometimes in large numbers if the heath has pools of water or is near water.
As in any habitat, mammals are often hard to find, and heaths are no exception. With the European Rabbit being the most common heathland mammal species, leaving their burrows in the sand, Sika Deer are often the only deer on heathlands, though Roe and other deers do occur. Predators such as Foxes, Weasels and Stoats also are found, usually feeding on rabbits.
|Common Lizard||Hobby||Sika Deer|