Wildlife Locations

Dorset is amazingly rich in wildlife. Here, variety really is the spice of life. Dorset's underlying geology and landscape support a vast variety of living things. Many of the wildlife habitats are nationally or internationally rare, and are home to some of the world's most threatened plants and animals.

Click on the flags on the wildlife mapto discover some of the best wildlife sites you can visit. Follow the links to find out about Dorset's different wildlife habitats and the species they support.

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  • Abbotsbury Swannery/Chesil Beach

    Sanctuary for mute swans originally established by Benedictine monks in the fourteenth century, an ancient site sheltered by Chesil Beach.

  • Allington Hill & Coopers Wood

    Mainly broadleaved area of woodland totalling 17.68 ha (43.69 acres).

  • Arne

    Nature reserve with lowland heath. Salt marshes lead to Poole Harbour mudflats.

  • Ballard Down & Old Harry

    Old-Harry credit Gillian Thomas Chalk headland with stacks and dramatic cliffs. Ballard Down offers fantastic views of the Dorset heaths, Poole Harbour and Old Harry Rocks.

  • Beningfield Wood

    Mainly young woodland, good views, grassland. 8.43 ha (20.83 acres).

  • Bracketts Coppice

    Broad leaved Woodland, High forest and Coppice with standards, herb rich neutral/acid grassland. (56 acres).

  • Brownsea Island

    A tranquil island in Poole Harbour with spectacular views.

  • Coombe Heath

    Nature reserve with wet heathland, dry heath and wet woodland.

  • Corfe Castle Common

    Dorset's largest working common, spectacular views of Corfe Castle.

  • Durlston Country Park

    Superb area of coastal grassland and seacliffs, one of the best places in Britain for watching birds and wildlife.

  • Ferrybridge

    Saline lagoon (The Fleet), shingle beach (Chesil) view of Portland Harbour.

  • Girdlers Coppice & Piddles Wood

    Hazel coppice with oak standards, grassy rides, flood plain meadows.

  • Godlingston

    National Nature Reserve.

  • Golden Cap

    Golden-Gap_credit Ian Dalgleish Golden Cap is the highest point on the Jurassic Coast at 191 metres and gets its name from a distinctive yellow sandstone. ...

  • Greenhill Down

    Chalk grassland and coppice woodland with a good range of flora and fauna.

  • Hambledon Hill

    View from Hambledon-Hill credit G&S SnelgroveNational Nature Reserve within an impressive hillfort. Chalk grassland with areas of mixed scrub.

  • Hartland Moor

    Lowland heath and mire, National Nature Reserve, extensively grazed by cattle and ponies. Adjoining farmland is being gradually restored to heath.

  • Haydon Hill

    Chalk downland slope, 10 hectares (25 acres)

  • Hod Hill

    Extensive Iron Age hillfort with Roman Fort in one corner. Chalk downland.

  • Kingcombe Meadows

    Ancient meadows, scrub, woodland, bog habitats and hedgerows.

  • King’s Wood

    Ancient broadleaf woodland on north side of Purbeck Ridge.

  • Little Giant Wood

    Mainly broadleaved woodland, 4.31 hectares (10.65 acres) .

  • Lodmoor Nature Reserve

    Predominantly a grassland and saltmarsh habitat, with small reed beds and scrub areas at either side.

  • Loscombe

    National Nature Reserve. Steeply sloping neutral pasture, hedgerows, sunken lane, stream and small wetland area.

  • Lulworth Cove/Heritage Centre

    Stunning Heritage Coast with cliffs and chalk download. Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door is internationally renowned for its coastal scenery, geology and geomorphology.

  • Muckleford Chalk Pit

    Disused chalk pit.

  • Nunnery Mead

    An attractive area of previously managed water meadows.

  • Poole Harbour

    One of the largest natural harbours in the world, supporting 5% of UK's reed beds, grazing marshes, salt marshes and mud flats.

  • Powerstock Common

    Ancient and semi-natural woodland, unimproved and restored pasture, mixed scrub and plantation woodland, ponds. Old brick kiln.

  • Pucketts Wood

    Mainly broadleaved woodland.

  • Purbeck Marine Nature Reserve

    An accessible rocky shore with rich marine life. Marine Centre contains displays and aquaria.

  • Radipole Lake

    Large reedbed, open water, flood meadows and scrub attracting a good range of birds all year.

  • Stonehill Down

    Reserve on Purbeck ridge with chalk downland, scrub and woodland. Good view of Poole Harbour.

  • Studland

    National Nature Reserve of dune, heath, woodland and wetland fringed with miles of sandy beach, a section of which is for naturists. Bird hides overlook Little Sea.

  • Townsend

    Limestone grass reserve on a former quarried landscape.

  • West Bexington

    Excellent example shingle beach on Chesil Bank, reedbed, wet meadow and scrub.

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