Dorset's wildlife

Dorset is an astonishing county for wildlife. The wonderful variety of habitats from the chalk downlands to the Purbeck heaths and internationally acclaimed coastline provide an incredible variety of wildlife on our doorstep. Not surprisingly there are numerous recording groups within the county, some established for many years. Whenever possible DERC work with local recorders, and encourage them to send in their species records to the Record Centre. We can then make that data available to conservation organisations, fellow recorders, ecological consultants, local authorities and others.

Dorsetís Flora

Early Spider Orchid

Ophrys sphegodes
Early Spider Orchid

Photo: Steve Rogers

With such a variety of habitats, it is not surprising that Dorset supports such an abundance of flora. It is home to some of Britain's rarest lichens, mosses and plants, including:

  • Catapyrenium psoromoides
  • Parmelia quercina
  • Lycopodiella inundata Marsh Clubmoss
  • Sphagnum pulchrum
  • Erica ciliaris Dorset Heath
  • Gentiana pneumonanthe Marsh Gentian
  • Ophrys sphegodes Early Spider Orchid

Dorsetís Fauna

Silver-studded blue butterfly - Plebejus argus

Silver-studded blue butterfly
Plebejus argus

Photo: Michael Hammett - English Nature

Dorset is home to an incredible variety of fauna, ranging from mammals and birds to invertebrates and marine life. It is well known for its populations of rare and unusual species including:

  • Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris; and
  • Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata

However, it is perhaps less well known for some of its other unusual residents and visitors, such as

  • Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis;
  • Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca;
  • Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus;
  • Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale;
  • Silver-studded Blue Butterfly Plebejus argus;
  • Starlet Sea Anemone Nematostella vectensis;
  • Greater Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum; and
  • European nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus