Dorset is in Southern England, and contains a range of habitats, and has many species which are rare elsewhere. Reserve managers include Royal Society of Protection of Birds (RSPB), Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT), Butterfly Conservation (BC) and Natural England (NE).
Alners Gorse (BC) is situated in the North of the county, and is mainly damp woodland. Every year, Nightingales return in the Spring, and you can hear them singing from the paths. Other birds include Barn Owl, Garden Warbler and Hobby. In Summer, a range of butterfly species can be seen, including White Admiral, Silver-Washed Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Brown, Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks. Many moth species have been recorded here, including the Dingy Mocha.
Arne (RSPB) is a large reserve which is predomitely heathland, but also marsh, reedbeds, and woodland. In the gorse, Dartford Warblers can be seen all year round, along with other heathland species, such as Stonechats. In Winter, flocks of waders can be seen on the marshes, including Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks. Other wintering birds include Brent Geese, Pintail and Wigeon. In summer, Nightjars can be seen from dusks, and Hobbies can be seen hunting dragonflies. The heathland pools hold Raft Spiders and Great Diving Beetles, as well as a range of dragonflies, including Black Darters. In autumn, Spoonbills and Ospreys are regular. Sika Deer are used to human activity and easy to spot on the reserve. Reptiles are frequent, including Smooth Snake.
Broadcroft Quarry (BC) is an inactive quarry on Portland. Birds include Whitethroat, Kestrel, as well as migrants, and as it is on Portland, rarities may turn up. Roe deer can sometimes be seen here. Butterflies include Small, Silver-studded, Chalkhill and Common Blues, and immigrants such as Clouded Yellow. Moths include Portland Ribbon Wave and Beautiful Gothic.
This Island in Poole Harbour (DWT and the National Trust) is famous for it's wildlife, particular it's Red Squirrels and Sika Deer, but in Autumn is home to many waders, including Spoonbills, and hundreds of Avocets. In the summer, Common and Sandwich Terns breed here, as do Little Egrets. Kingfishers and Water Voles can also be seen. Cuckoos, Woodcock, Nightjars and Hobbies can all be seen during the summer months, as well as large numbers of insects, including wood ants and various dragonfly species can be seen. Reptiles are frequent, and the Grey Long-eared Bat has been recorded.
Coombe Heath (DWT) contains dry and wet heathlands, and is home to heathland species, such as Dartford Warblers and Stonechat. Like many of Dorset's heathlands, Common Sundew can be found. Heath Spotted Orchids are present, as are heathland insects, such as many dragonfly species and bog bush-crickets. Butterflies include White Admirals and Silver-Washed Fritillary. Reptiles are frequent, including Sand Lizard. Also to be seen are Large Marsh Grasshopper on the Sphagnum Bogs.
Durlston Head is a great spot for migrant species, and Spring migrants can be seen in numbers, such as Ring Ouzels. Peregrines nest here, along with large flocks of Guillemots, and other seabirds. Butterflies include Lulworth Skipper and migrant species like Clouded Yellow. Rare moths occur, include Grass Eggar and the Striped Bollworm, which was a new record for Europe. Adders can be seen.
This tidal lagoon borders Chesil Beach, and the lagoon holds a very large population of Mute Swans, and in Winter, species such as Grey Plover, Pintail, Brent Geese and Wigeon flock to this lagoon, with Brent Geese being in particuar numbers. Wildlife in the lagoon include a range of rare molluscs, lobsters, spider crabs, and a range of fish species.
Higher Hyde HeathEdit
Higher Hyde Heath (DWT) contains a range of heathland species, including Dartford Warblers and Stonechats, and Sika Deer are frequent on the reserve. Coal tits and woodpeckers can be seen in the conifir woodland, and Snipe can be seen in the wet bog. In summer, Nightjars and Hobbies are frequent, feeding on dragonflies, moths and other insects. Emperor Moths can be seen in Spring, and reptiles are frequent, including Sand Lizards. Plants include Early Marsh Orchids and Pale Butterwort. Large Marsh Grasshoppers and Black Bog Ants can be seen on the reserve.
On the River Hooke, Kingcombe (DWT) contains grassy meadows which during the summer will be covered in wildflowers, and is fantastic for a range of insects, including beetles and butterflies. Dippers and Grey Wagtails can be seen on the reserve, and a range of warbler species can be seen in the woodland during the summer.
Lankham Bottom (BC) is a chalk grassland reserve north of Dorchester, and various species can be seen here, including Raven, Willow Warbler and Yellowhammer. Butterflies and moths include Adonis Blue, Marsh Fritilleries, Brown Argus, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, Wood Tiger, Fox Moth and Cistus Forester.
Lodmoor (RSPB) is a large reserve just out of Weymouth, compromising of reedbeds and marshes, this reserve holds many wetland specialists. Marsh Harriers breed here, and Bitterns can be seen in winter. Water Rail and Bearded Tit can be seen from the reedbeds. In winter, large numbers of waders and wildfowl can be seen, including Spoonbills, Brent Geese, Pochard Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. A large number of dragonfly species can be seen here during the summer too. Common Terns nest here during the summer.
Set in Weymouth, Lorton Meadows (DWT) is a series of large meadows and woodland. Mammals such as Roe Deer, Badger and Fox can all be seen on the reserve, and Kestrels, Buzzards and Barn Owls all breed on the reserve. During Summer there are large numbers of invertebrates, including Wasp Spiders. Overlooks the reedbeds of Lodmoor, and Starling roosts can be seen from here.
Morden Bog (NE) is a lowland heath, with ancient reedbeds, which are home to some rare insects, which are recorded nowhere else in the county, or in some cases, no where else in south-west England. In winter, Great Grey Shrikes can be seen here. Reptiles are regular, including Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes, and bird species include Hobby, Nightjar and Woodlark. Plants include Marsh Clubmoss and Heather.
Portland Bill is a hotspot for migrant and vagrant wildlife, with many rare birds and moths being recorded in most years. Little Owls can be found in the Bird Observatory Quarry, and regular migrant birds include Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, Manx Shearwater, Bluethroat, Ring Ouzel, Hoopoe, Jack Snipe ect ect.
Set in the heart of Weymouth, Radipole Lake (RSPB) is a reedbed reserve. During the summer, Sand and House Martins, and Swallows are abundant on the reserve, as well as Cuckoos being seen in most years. Hobbies can also be seen during the summer months, feeding on dragonflies, and rare dragonflies such as the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly turn up, but in Autumn there are large numbers of Migrant Hawker. In spring, Garganey can be seen. Marsh Harriers and Kingfishers breed here, and Water Rails can be seen. In winter, Bitterns are regular. Bee, Southern Marsh and Pyramidal orchids can be seen on the reserve.
Tadnoll & Winfrith HeathEdit
Tadnoll and Winfrith heaths (DWT) border each other, and are split by a river. Bird species include Nightjar, Hobbies, Woodlark and Dartford Warblers. A range of dragonflies can be seen, including the Golden-ringed Dragonfly. A range of butterflies can be seen, including Grayling and Silver-studded Blue. Plants include Bog Asphodel, Bog Moss and Heath Spotted Orchid.