Wildlife - plants and animals
Wildlife on today's heathland has adapted to survive on dry and wet heath, bogs and mires, woodland edge and bare patches of sand and gravel. Many animals and plants found on heathlands cannot be found in any other place and are protected by law.
Heathland is important for birds like the nightjar, stonechat and the much rarer woodlark and Dartford warbler. Many other common or garden birds are heathland visitors, living in neighbouring gardens or woodlands, making Dorset a bird-watcher's paradise.
The Heath tiger beetle (Cicindela sylvatica) and heath bee-fly (Bombylius minor) are just two of over 5,000 invertebrates to be found on Dorset Heaths.
The word "heath" is derived from heather and the people who lived on the heath were the original "heathens". All wild plants and flowers found on the heath are protected.
Dorset Heaths are home to all six native reptiles: Smooth snake, Grass snake, Adder, Sand Lizard, Common Lizard and Slow worm.
The changing seasons on the heathland
The seasonal changes to the heathland bring with it new birds, plants and animals. Changes in climate can also be seen on the heath such as the influx of Painted Lady butterflies or more frequent visits from such birds as the Hoopoe.