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National Trust

The National Trust looks after large areas of the coastline as well as some of our heath.

Lakes Ponds and Gravel Pits

Natural ponds and lakes as well as those that are remnants of mineral extract often make good wildlife habitat

Alphabetic Index F and G

Sites whose names begin with either an F or a G ...


There are many creatures that are called insects but are really other life forms. These come under the general banner of arthropods.

Grasses Sedges and Reeds

Grasses and rushes are also flowering plants but produce pannicles rather than the familar flower structure.


The Isle of Portland and the southern edge of the Isle of Purbecks are famous for the quality of the limestone.

Natural England

Natural England manages our various national nature reserve of which Dorset is well blessed.

Reed Bed and Fen

At the mouths of Dorset larger rivers are often large areas of reed or fen, good for wildlife any time of year.

Alphabetic Index H

Sites whose names begin with an H ...


Molluscs are commonly found in the sea as what we know as sea food but there are land molluscs as well.

Mosses and Liverworts

Non-flowering evergreen plants that produce fruiting bodies on stalks.

Poole Basin

The Poole Basin in a low lying area of sand and aluvial deposits with Poole Harbour at its core.

Forestry Commission

The Forestry Commission manages a lot of land in Dorset, primarily in the Purbeck area.

Tidal Marsh and Mudflats

Poole and Christchurch harbours have extensive areas of tidal marsh and mudflats, ideal for wintering birds.

Alphabetic Index I J and K

Sites whose names begin with either an I, J or K ...


Reptiles are the land based members of the herptile clan; snakes and lizards.

Ferns, Spleenworts and Horsetails

Large non-flowering plants that release spores from the undersides of their leaves (or fronds).

The Fleet

The Fleet is the area of water behind the remarkable massive stone and shingle Chesil beach.

Conservation Organisations

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and Woodland Trust all have reserves in Dorset

Water Meadows and Damp Pasture

Meadows that frequently flood or are generally damp produce wonderful displays of wild flowers and many insects.

Alphabetic Index L

Sites whose names begin with an L ...


Amphibians are herptiles that produce their young in water. As adults they are land based but can survive in water.


Lichen are technically not plants at all, they are a combination of a fungi and an algae. Included here as they look like plants!


To the north and east of the central chalk ridge lie the clay beds of Blackmore Vale.

Open Access

Some land is privately managed but there is access via public footpath or it has been designated as open access.

Rough and Unimproved Pasture

Meadows and pasture that have escaped agricultural improvement are rare but those that exist are wonderful natural habitats.

Alphabetic Index M N and O

Sites whose names begin with either an M, N or O ...


Larger mammals that catch and eat live prey although some also feed on carrion.


A toadstool is not a recognised mycological term but I have used to group classic cap and stipe fungi together.

High (150-200 species)

Species rich site with between 151 and 200 species recorded so far.

Restricted Access

Some sites are restricted access and entry is by permission of the owner or by payment of an entry fee.

Sandy or Shingle Shoreline

Any beach, sandy or shingle, will produce an array of flowers not seen in any other habitat.

Alphabetic Index P and Q

Sites whose names begin with a either a P or Q ...


Smaller mammals adapted to catch and digest small insects. This includes bats of course. 

Brackets, Balls and Others

Apart from toadstools there are other forms of fungi, some bracket shaped, some ball shaped, others just funny shapes!

Average (100-150 species)

An average site from where I have so far recorded between 101 and 150 species.

Management Unknown

There are some sites that I just do not know who manages but access is allowed anyway.

Sea Cliffs

The limestone of the southern coast of Dorset provide not only wonderful views but good wildlife habitat.

Alphabetic Index R

Sites whose names begin with an R ...


Mammals that eat solely grass and herbage. These are the rabbit family and deer.

Non-conformist Fungi

One of the fascinating hings about fungi is the vast array of forms they come in. Beyond the familar shapes there are corals, spindles, cups, flasks, jellies, crusts and more.

Low (50-100 species)

Sites where I have recorded between 51 and 100 species. This may be due to lack of visits.

Very Low (less than 50 species)

These are sites where I have recorded 50 speices or less, probably due to lack of coverage.

Other Bodies

Other bodies manage some sites, English Heritage or the Ministry of defence for example.

Unknown Habitat

These are sites I have not yet visited so I do not know what habitat types exist.


Click the photo to view the odonata; dragonflies and damselflies.

Alphabetic Index S

Sites whose names begin with an S ...


The large family known as rodents. Adapted to a mainly vegetarian diet but eat fruits and nuts rather than grass.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are flowering plants but I have put them as a separate grouping as they tend to be distinctive.

None (no records yet!)

I have yet to visit these sites so I have no species lists for them.

Coniferous Plantation

Areas primarily of coniferous forest with some influence of heath or other habitat in open areas.

Quarry and Mineral Extraction

Worked out quarried and mineral extractions can provide really good wildlife habitat if restored for that purpose.


Click the photo to view the orthoptera; grasshoppers, bush-crickets and coneheads.

Alphabetic Index T U and V

Sites whose names begin with either a T, U or V ...


A selection of birds usually associated with the sea and saline water, most are fish eaters.

Flowers: Major families

I have grouped the species of the major families (families with 4 or more recorded members) together as each family has common charateristics.

Conurbation Area

The urban areas of Bournemouth, Poole and Christhcurch south of the A31.

Broadleaf Wood or Coppice

Areas predominantly of broadleaf deciduous trees or areas of coppice (or once coppiced).

Parkland and Gardens

Most of the country houses of Dorset have parks and gardens open to the public which can be of wildlife interest.


Click the photo to view the hemiptera; true bugs and shield bugs.

Alphabetic Index W

Sites whose names begin with a W ...


Species of birds that are associated mainly, but not exclusively, with fresh water.

Flowers: Minor Families

I have grouped species that belong to smaller families (3 recorded species or less) together but subdivided them by common characteristics; for example, climbers, bushes, aquatic plants and others

Eastern Dorset

The area north of the A31 and east of the A354 (Poole to Blandford) and A352 (Blandford to Salisbury).

Mixed Plantation

Planted and managed woodland with areas of both conifers and broadleaf trees, often beech.


These sites have well made paths that should be suitable for wheelchair users.


Click the photo to view the lepidoptera; butterflies and moths.

Alphabetic Index X Y and Z

Sites whose names begin with an X, Y or Z ...

Birds of Prey

Raptor is another name for birds of prey. Equipped for killing with sharp beaks and tallons. 

Open Heath

Areas where heather and gorse are the primary plants along with silver birch. Wet bogs contain diverse and rare plants as well as insects. Dry heath is home to the snakes and lizards.

Western Dorset

Western Dorset lies to the west of the A354 Weymouth to Dorchester road and to the west of the A352 Dorchester to Sherborne road.

Downland and Escarpment

Areas of extensive grassland, often on steep slopes, with occasional bushes and tress.


These sites have a mobility tramper (or scooter) available for hire.


Click the photo to view the diptera; flies including crane flies and hoverflies.


Display these unvisited sites as an alphabetical list.


Birds of tidal water and marshes. Long beaks for probing the mud.


A large swathe of chalk runs from north east Dorset down to the south west and the turns back eastwards along the Purbeck ridge.

Northern Dorset

Northern Dorset lies to the north of the A357 and A3030 Blandford to Sherborne road and the A354 Blandford to Salisbury road.

Scrub and Shrubs

Sites with a diverse mixture of open spaces and scrub making ideal wildlife habitat.

Alphabetic Index A

Sites whose names begin with an A ...


Click the photo to view the hymenopteraa; bees, wasps, ants and their relatives.


Display these unvisited sites on a map of Dorset.

Doves crows and game

Although not related I have combined these because they tend to share open countryside habitats.

Isle of Purbeck

The Isle of Purbeck has various definitions but I am using the area south of the A352 Wareham to Wool and then the B3071 to Lulworth. East of that is Purbeck, north and west is south Dorset.

Central Dorset

Central Dorset lies to the north of the A31/A35 Wimborne to Dorchester road, east of the A352 Dorchester to Sherborne road, south of the A357 Sherborne to Blandford road.

Farmland and Field Margins

Areas primarily influenced by farming and usually having hedgerows and field margins.

Alphabetic Index B

Sites whose names begin with an B ...


Click the photo to view thecoleoptera; beetles and ladybirds.

Southern Dorset

The area west of the Isle of Purbeck, east of the western area and south of the central area!

Medium Passerines

Under medium passerines I include thrushes and other land birds of similar size.

Dorset Wildlife Trust

The Dorset Wildlife Trust is the primary conservation organisation and manages over 40 reserves across the county. 


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has four reserves in Dorset.

Redundant Railway

Trails and paths that run along redundant railway lines, often shared with cyclists.

Alphabetic Index C

Sites whose names begin with an C ...

Other Insects

Click the photo to view other orders of insects not listed above.


Seaweeds are plants that can survive in salt water and being exposed to the air, often alternately. 

Small Passerines

Under small passerines I include finches, buntings and land birds of a similar size.

Very High (over 200 species)

Reserves and sites with a very high level of interest and where I have recorded over 200 different species.

Local Authorities

Dorset County and the districts of East, West, North and Purbeck all manage reserves. So to Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch boroughs.


Riversides are wonderfully diverse habitats with lots of flowers and insects as well as birds.

Alphabetic Index D and E

Sites whose names begin with either a D or E ...


Arachnids are better known as spiders of course but I have included harvestmen here that are not true arachnids but have eight legs.

Tiny Passerines

Under tiny passerines I include the samallest of our land based birds.


Lias is a form of limestone found in the far west of the county around Lyme Regis and Golden Cap. It includes the highest hills in Dorset, Lewesdon and Pilsdon Pen. 


Mosses are low growing plants that form clusters or carpets on the ground or on tree trunks.

Hedgehogs and Shrews

Small mammals that eat invertebrates including insects, arthropods and molluscs.

Pierid Butterflies Whites

The pierid butterflies are the white and yellow ones, often with black markings. Mainly familiar species but can be tricky to tell apart in flight.

Lichens crustose

Crusty lichens that form mainly on stone and rocks but some also occur on tree bark.


Ferns generally like shady, even damp places. They tend to be large plants with long serated fronds (or leaves). 

Birds Plovers

Plovers tend to be stocky waders with short bills as they feed on or near the surface of the mud.


Dragonflies tend be much stockier than damselflies, have a stronger flight and rest with their wings open

Rabbits and Hares

Compact mammals that primarily feed on grass and leafy vegetation.


Ephemeroptera are better known as mayflies. Larvae are aquatic hatching in to adults that live just 24 hours, usually in May, hence mayflies.

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous or broadleaved trees include our natural species. They shed their leaves in Autumn, new ones emerging each spring.

Tiger Beetles and Ground beetles

Long legged, fast, ground living preditory beetles. Tiger beetles tend to be brightly coloured and sun-loving species whereas ground beetles are usually black and nocturnal.

Shield bugs

Members of the sub-order Heteroptera but are quite distinctive becuase of the shield-like appearance of their outer casing.

Amanita Fungi

The Amanita family includes the most famous fungus of all, the Fly Agaric. It  also contains some of the most deadly poisonous of British fungi and they should be handled with extreme care (or not at all!). 


Grasshoppers are much more slender than the generally bulky bush-cricket and have much shorter antennae.


Primarily land based animals (although otters spend much time in water) that catch and eat live prey.


Snails are the most common of the land based molluscs and are, of course, esily distinguished by their shiny shells. There are also fresh water molluscs or water snails too.


Sawflies are not flies but relatives of bees and wasps.  Not strong fliers and tend to stay on bushes and pants where they feed on pollen. Variable insects, some have saw-like ovipositors.

Buttercup Family Ranunculaceae

The buttercup family are generally golden yellow and have five petals. Some members of the family are white and some have differing numbers of petals.The family includes spearworts and crowfoots as well as one or two surprises!

Coral and Spindle Fungi

Small, coral-like, spindle shaped fungi in all sorts of colours. There are several genus that make up this family of interesting species that are often associated with dead wood or leaf litter. 


Woodlice have armoured casing. They are land-living crustaceans of the order isopoda and have seven pairs of legs.

Frogs and Toads

Frogs and toads lay their eggs in water and their tadpoles are adapted to live there but the adults spend most of their life on land.


Snakes are effectively legless lizards with much longer, thinner bodies. Cold blooded reptiles that lay eggs on land. The grass snake is at home in water. 

Simple Flowers

I define 'simple' flowers as those with a single array of petals around a central cluster of stamens and anther.

Birds Raptors

Large birds of prey such as buzzards, harriers, hawks and falcons


Small rodents with round faces and short tails that eat primarily nuts and fruits.

Birds Warblers

Many of our summer migrants are warblers. Delicate birds that feed on insects that they find in trees and shrubs.



Grasses are flowering plants but have pannicles rather than the more familiar flower types of other plants.

Crane flies

Commonly called daddy-long-legs because of their long, dangling legs. A variable range of flies, some surprising small and like mosquitos.

Birds Swans

Large, elegant birds seen mainly on, or near, rivers and lakes.

Birds Shearwaters Petrels Auks and Cormorants

These are species that in Dorset we usually only see out at sea although the Fulmar nests on the cliffs.


Spiders (or arachnids) have eight legs, no wings and a segmented body which seperates them from true insects which have six legs and four wings.

Birds Game

Gamebirds are reared solely for shooting and, in general, would not be present in the countryside were this not the case.

Birds Finches and Buntings

Finches are small birds with short, stout beaks, ideally made for eating seed. this group includes some of our most common birds. Whilst not related buntings have similar characteristcs.


Nymphalid Butterflies Admirals and Fritillaries

Large, brightly coloured butterflies. A group that contains many of our most familiar species and some rare ones too!


Generally small ferns that grow on walls or trees. Leaves often vary from classic fern shape. 


Neuroptera are better known as lacewings, delicate looking insects. They are mainly nocturnal but can be found at rest on vegetation during the day.


Nocturnal flying mammals able to use echo-location to catch insects, primarily moths. (Not my photo)

Boletes Fungi

Most toadstools have gills from where spores are released but the boletes species have pores instead. This gives a spongey, often yellow, look to the underside of the cap. Quite often the surface of the cap can be cracked. 

Birds Sandpipers

Sandpipers are more delicate and graceful than plovers and have much longer bills as they feed deeper in the mud.


Much more delicate than dragonflies and a much more fluttery flight. Most (not all) rest with their wings along the body.

Birds Gulls Skuas and Terns

From the iconic birds of the seaside with their laughing calls and boisterous behaviour to species seen only distantly out at sea from the shore

Scarab Beetles and Burying beetles

Carnivorous, scavanging beetles. Largely nocturnal with a strong sense of smell that feed on carrion.

Poppy Family Papaveraceae

Poppies are generally large, open flowers with four petals but the family also includes fumitories which have small tubualr flowers. Although superficially quite different these two groups of flowers are quite closely related.

Mice and Rats

Generally small rodents with pointed faces and long tails.

Birds Pigeons and Doves

Although wood pigeon frequently occur in gardens most pigeons and doves are farmland birds. 

Bush Crickets

Bush-crickets tend to be bulky insects and incredibly long antennae.

Ball Fungi

Ball fungi will be familiar to most of us as we tended to stamp on them when we were younger just to see the smoke emerge in clouds! There are several species of ball fungi, not all of them puffballs.


Large, browsing mammals that eat primarily grass and leafy vegetation.

Marine Mammals

Mammals that spend much of their life at sea and feed primarily on fish and aquatic creatures.


The woodpeckers are associated with trees and are rarely seen away from the vicinity of woodlands.


Complex Flowers

I define 'complex' flowers as those with a more complicated flower structure than a single array of petals.

Cup and Jelly Fungi

There are fungi that develop in a cup or ear shape that a soft at first then harden. There are other jelly-like species that form hard shapes when dry too.  

Heteropteran bugs

I have put shield bugs in to a seperate category leaving all other heteropteran bugs here. A large and varied family, usually with slender bodies and long antennae.


A large and diverse group of parasitic insects, usally having long antennae and the females have long ovipositors to lay their eggs inside the larvae of other insects, often caterpillars.


Newts resemble lizards that live in water but they are not that closely related. Lay their eggs in water and spend longer in water as adults than frogs and toads.


Slugs are land based molluscs like snails but lack the hard shell which makes them more vulnerable to attack but enables them to move faster.

Bracket Fungi

Bracket fungi always grow on trees, the cap facing up and, of course, the pore producing surface facing downwards. It helps to identify the tree it is growing on as many prefer a specific species.


Lizards and snakes are closely related but most lizards have legs (other than the slow worm). Cold blooded, land living reptiles that lay eggs.

Birds Titmice and Wrens

Although summer insect feeders the members of the tit family will happily eat nuts and seed in winter. Although not related I have included the wren, goldcrest anf firecrest here.



Sedges are lovers of damp, even wet, habit and have bladed leaves - sedges have edges.

Mosquitoes and midges

This group not only contains the insects we would imaging under this title but also some interesting larger insects that look very different to the classic mosquito. 

Birds Geese

Large, bulky birds with long necks and big feet!

Lichens fruticose

Species of lichens producing little cup shaped fruiting bodies from which sspores are released


Harvestmen have eight legs like spiders but their body consists of a single segment rather than separate thorax and abdonment.

Lichens foliose

Lichens that are leafy as if having foliage.

Birds Other Waders

There are other families of waders, notably the oystercatcher and the avocet.


Mecoptera are better known as scorpion flies. Although carnivorous and they may look dangerous they are quite harmless! They eat dead animal matter and fruit.

Satyrid Butterflies Browns

This group of butterflies is formed mainly of brown coloured species but also includes the marbled white. 

Sea Shells

Here are some sea shells you may find on the sea shore; sadly the animal living inside will have long since died!


Compact mammals with rounded faces and bushy tails that feed maily on nits and fruits.

Homopteran bugs

Homopteran bugs tends to be quite small and have their wings folded along the body which makes them look a bit like beetles!


Distinctive, nocturnal beetles; generally strong fliers. Vegetarian and can be a pest in gardens, farms and forests.

Birds Ducks

The familiar shape of the duck is quite distinctive, but there are lots of species!

Goosefoot Family Amaranthaceae

The goosefoot family contains some of our most common weeds of cultivation, many having once been crops grown as cattle fodder and salad vegetables. They have rather plain, non-descript flowers. I have also included members of the small family called Urticaceae (nettles) here as they share some characteristics.

Birds Owls

Birds of prey designed to hunt at night with excellent eye sight and hearing. [Not my photo]

Ink Caps

Inkcaps generally have one thing in common; as soon as the caps have developed they start to disintegrate into an ink-like liquid, hence the name ink cap. In doing this, the spores are washed in to the soil rather than being blown on the wind.


Social insects nesting underground in colonies with flightless workers tending a winged queen and her young.

Birds Corvids

You will find members of the crow family almost anywhere where there is open space but large numbers of rooks and jackdaws are common on fields.


Rushes and Reeds

Fond primarily in damp habitat their flowers come out of the side of the stems. Rushes are round.

Soldier flies and Snipe flies

Flies with flattened bodies and usually brightly coloured and can be mistaken for hover flies or even wasps. snipe flies tend to have a more pointed abdomen.

Miscellaneous Fungi

There are a number of fungi that do not conform to toadstool or bracket shapes and are not jeelies, crusts and so on. I have gathered these together here. 

Birds Thrushes and Chats

Thrushes are mainly those birds of the genera turdus whereas chats are distant members of the thrush family but are generally smaller yet retaining that familar thrush upright posture.



Horsetails have a strong central stem with small branches that come out all the way up. Related to ferns but quite distinctive.


Within bushes I have included medium shrubby plants with woody rather than fleshy stems.

Lycaenid Butterflies Blues and Hairstreaks

These species have the familiar names of hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Usually small butterflies with males being brightly marked.


Mushrooms (agaricus fungi) are generally plain capped, pale in colour and often hove black gills. Quite often species of this family are found in meadows and grassland, frequently where there has been some form of agriculture in the past.

Crust and Spot Fungi

There are fungi that appear as a rot on the surface of wood, others appear as spots and these are known a respunate fungi but I have called then crusts and spots.


Trichoptera are better known as caddis flies. Species are mainly aquatic with a short adult life out of water. They are mainly active at night but come to light.

Soldier Cardinal and Click beetles

Brightly coloured beetles with elongated wing cases. Seen on flowers in summer.

Campion Family Caryophyllaceae

Campions have five petals in an open, rosette. Some have deeply lobed petals which can make it appear they have ten. This family Includes stitchworts, chickweeds and spurreys.

Digger wasps

Solitary wasps that mainly nest in the ground creating little heaps of soil or sand as they excavate. Usually yellow and black or orange and black.

Birds Pipits and Wagtails

Pipits and wagtails are closely related. Insect eaters that are often, but not always, found near water.


Birds Grebes and divers

Grebes and divers can be seen at sea in the winter but in summer some nest near fresh water. They spend much time diving for food.


Climbing plants can often be found in our hedgerows using neighbouring plants for support.

Club mosses

Clubmosses are unusual non-flowering plants. They are small, inconspicuous but uncommon yet widespread where they occur.

Horse flies

Called horse flies as some of the family can be a pest to horses and other mammals as well. They tend to be bulky insects, fast flying and with short, stout antennae. This group includes bee-flies.

Robber flies

Bristly, predatory flies inclined to sitting on leaves and ambushing passing insects which they catch in mid-air.

Insectivorous and Parasitic Plants

An interesting selection of plans that derive nutrients from insects and other plants.

Hesperid Butterflies Skippers

Small butterflies but strong flyers. Most species have an unusual seperated wing position when at rest

Knights and Funnels

The fungi known as knights are big and bold whereas funnels are, well, funnel shaped! These are among the larger toadstool type fungi that occur mainly amongst the leaf litter in woodlands. I have included chanterelle here as it is funnel shaped.

Dock Family Polygonaceae

Docks are probably familiar to us all; big, untidy, leafy plants with seed-like flowers that are green or reddish. The dock family does have a number of species like that but it also includes sorrels and knotgrasses, The latter, although small, clearly show many of the same characteristics that the large species do.

Ladybirds and Carpet Beetles

Generally domed bodies although some are elongated. Some are very small and overlooked. Can be variable in appearance within the same species.

Birds Flycatchers and Larks

Allthough not related I have combined these two insect eating families for convenience! 


Social wasps

The familar yellow and black insect of the garden. There are many varieties difficult to distinguish between. The group includes the hornet.

Birds Egrets Herons and Storks

Birds of reed beds, saltmarsh and mudflats. Long legs for wading and long beaks for fishing.

St Johns Wort Family Hypericaceae

St John's worts are bright yellow, five petaled star shaped flowers. They range is size but all retain the primary floral characteristcs. There are several varities  found in the wild and some are grown in gardens and consequently have escaped into the wild.

Longhorn beetles

Named longhorns because of their long and sturdy antennae. Elongated bodies. Larvae are usually wood borers. 

Aquatic Plants

Flowering plants, some rather inconspicous, adapted to thrive in still or slow moving fresh water.

Russula Fungi

There are two main groups of russula, Milkcaps and Brittlegills; I have not seperated them here. Many species in this family exhibit a dip in the centre of the cap. Milkcaps exude a white milky substance if broken and russulas are often, but not always, a russet colour. A very difficult group to identify.


A large group of insects, mostly solitary rather than communal. Pollen and nectar feeders but only the females collect this to take back to the nest.

Hover flies

Hoverflies are the largest group of flies. Many are colourful and mimic wasps and bees, others less so. Quite harmless and very variable.

Birds Rails and cranes

Rails are fresh water birds and found mainly on lakes but also on rivers. Often associated with reed beds.

Leaf beetles and Weevils

A large family of small, brightly coloured beetles that feed on leaves. Sadly this brings some species in to conflict with gardeners!

Parasitic flies

Stocky, hairy and quite ugly looking flies that parasitise other insects, especially caterpillars.

Bonnets and Mottlegills

These species have caps that are shaped like little hats that sit on top of thin stems. They are usually fragile little fungi and can be very difficult to identify as many seem, at first sight anyway, the same as their cousins. 

Garden Escapes

Flowers normally found n gardens that have 'escaped' and frequently occur in the countryside.

Mallow Family Malvaceae

Mallows have five petals and come in various shades of pink ranging from a pale lilac though purple to almost blue. The flowers are generally an inch or so across and the plants themselves are bushy. There is a tendency to find mallows near to the sea but they also appear as weeds of cultivation in fields.

Birds Hirundines and Swifts

Hirundine is the family name for swallows and martins who, along with swifts, are summer visitors because of the ample food supply in summer.

Bumble bees and Cuckoo bees

Generally large, sturdy, hairy, social insects with distinctive colour patterns although some species are very similar. Cuckoo bees look similar but lay their eggs in bumble bee nests and so do not collect nectar.

Water beetles

Streamlined beetles able to live under water coming occassionally to the surface to renew oxygen supplies. String swimmers, rarely seen and difficult to identify without catching them!

Hedgerow Shrubs

These are familiar shrubs in our hedgerows but they can also be found as smaller stand alone trees.

House flies and Blow Flies

Although called house flies very few of this group are ever found in houses! A variable family of stout, black coloured flies but not all of them.

Galls and Deformities

Familiar plants with a growth or swelling on the stem often produced by insects laying eggs in the stem.


Violet Family Violaceae

Violets, and their cousins, the pansies, have five petals but arranged in a unique way, two at the top, three at the bottom, and this makes the family easy to identify but the flowers within the family are a bit more challenging. Most are purple or blue but some pansies have yellow in them. The sweet violet also comes in white!

Other Small Land Birds

A diverse selection of land birds in other families generally smaller than a blackbird.


Some species growing on dead tree stumps especially occur in large clusters. They are often small fungi that have a shiny or greasy appearance on the cap. I have gathered roundheads, tufts, brownies and toughshanks together for identification purposes.

Coniferous Trees

Coniferous or evergreen trees are generally found in, or near if self-seeded, forestry plantations. The have needles rather than broad leaves.

Sea Weeds

Some seaweeds found on beahces and rocks in  Dorset.

Tricholoma Fungi

The tricholoma family of fungi are a very varied and complex collection of species. Some of the larger groups I have broken out in to other sections such as the knights and funnels, the bonnets and so on. Under this heading are some of the members of smaller species groups.

Other larger land birds

A diverse selection of land birds in other families generally larger than a blackbird.


Cabbage Family Crucifereae

The cabbage family are also known as brassicas. They have four petals in a cross shape hence the usual name of crucifers, cross-shaped. This a diverse family of manly yellow or white blooms but the four petals are diagnostic although the flowers may come in spikes, clusters or individually.

Heath Family Ericaceae

Yes, the heath family are strongly connected to heath and moorland habitats. Woody plants that can grow in conditions other plants could not even get a root hold in make supreme specialists of this habitat type and as Dorset has a considerable amount of heath most of these plants are commonly found here.

Waxcap Fungi

Waxcap fungi are to mycolgists what orchids are to botanists and raptors are to ornithologists! Waxcaps, as their name implies have a waxy finish to their caps and tend to have a conical shape, especially when first emerging. 

Moths 001 033 Swifts burnets and clearwings

Primitive moth species being quite unique in appearance and not really similar to the bulk of mith species. These are the hepialidae (swifts), zygaenidae (burnets) and sesiidae (clearwings)

Primrose Family Primulaceae

The primrose family contains some familiar species that one would expect but there are some surprises too! Generally five-petalled flowers and quite small plants. Primroses are quite likely to hybridise with other members of the family and the garden primula is beginning to have a detrimental effect on wild populations so beware 'freaks'. (Note: Purple Loosestrife is actually a member of the Lythraceae family).

Moths 034 050 Eggars saturns and leopards

These are three small groups of moths but with (in general) large species! It includes cossidae (leopards), Lasiocampidae (eggars) and saturniidae (the emporer moth).

Moths 051 068 Hawkmoths

Stout bodied, fast flying moths. Often large with colourful markings. Most often seen as large caterpillars rather than night flying moths.

Stonecrop Family Crassulaceae

Stonecrops are an interesting set of flowers, not really woody nor fleshy but a cross between the two! Attractive star shaped flowers, some with five petals but not all. They get their name from their ability to thrive on the barest of soils on rocks and walls.  Some species are popular in gardens too.

Moths 069 084 Hooktips and lutestrings

This is the family drepanidae; a small family which includes hhok-tips, lutestrings and half a dozen other species 

Rose Family Rosaceae

Roses are one of the most common families of wild flowers and also one of the most diverse. The five-petal rosette is a characteristic but in some members of the family this is not clearly visible. The range of species is quite immense from hedgerow shrubs to small sprawling little flowers. Not all members of the family are immediately obvious as roses.

Moths 085 387 Geometerids

These moths rest with their wings flattened or outstretched giving them a triangular appearance, hence the geometeric connection.

Pea Family Fabaceae

The form of the pea flower is unmistakable. The family is diverse though and contains vetches, clovers and many other familiar flowers. Most of the vetches are climbers using tendrils to cling to adjacent vegetation whilst clovers are low growing and free standing. A wide range of colours, sizes and styles but all with the distinctive pea flower and leaf.

Slime Moulds

Slime moulds look like fungi and have some similar characteristics but are classified as a seperate life form. Given the similarities and the fact there are not many common slime moulds I have grouped them with fungi to aid identification.

Moths 388 415 Kittens and Prominents

These are three types of notodontidae family. Each has distinctive characteristics but in general are stout, hairy and sombre!

Willowherb Family Onagraceae

A small family but with a couple of big species! Willowherbs are generally shades of purple or mauve, some are quite striking and obvious to identify whilst others are much more difficult being quite similar. Often favouring damp conditions but in a wide range on habitats you can potentially encounter a willowherb almost anywhere.

Moths 416 478 Tigers Ermines and Footmen

Striking moths, brightly coloured and that acts as a warning to preditors as most of this family are poisonous!

Spurge Family Euphorbiaceae

Spurges are generally quite a distinctive family. They almost give the appearance of not having flowers and technically they have not! The green 'petals' are called bracts and the stamens and anther are in the centre of these. Spurges need bare ground and some are vigorous weeds in gardens and hunted down whilst others are specifically grown as garden flowers!

Cranesbill Family Geraniaceae

Cranesbills have five petals but in some species these are deeply lobed and can give the appearance of having ten. Wild geraniums are often called cranesbills or storksbills because of the shape of the seed pod once the flowers die. Geraniums are, of course, popular garden flowers and so several cultivated species may be encountered in the wild.

Moths 479 515 Fanfoots and underwings

Although members of the family noctuidae these are some sub-groups that demonstrate some physical variations to 'standard' noctuids and, in many ways, resemble geometrids!

Carrot Family Umbelliferae

The carrot family are also known as umbelliferae as their flower heads form umbrellas. There are many members that are quite similar in appearance and can present identification difficulties so habitat becomes important. Whilst many are white some are yellow but all are popular with small insects as a nectar source.

Moths 516 899 Noctuidae

By far the largest British family of moths. Outer wings are generally rather dingy but often have some quite detailed markings. The wings are folded flat on top of the body when resting.

Micro moths

A range of families of small moths, many day flying. Quite variable in appearance and many difficult to identify.

Gentian Family Gentianaceae

After orchids I would image gentians are the next most charismatic family of flowers. In Dorset we have some larger but scarce gentians which attract attention but the family includes the centaury group which have smaller flowers and are probably less exciting to the flower hunters.

Bindweed Family Convolvulaceae

Bindweeds do what they say on the label, they are 'weeds' that bind or entwine themselves around other plants, usually anticlockwise, to grow upwards towards the light. They have large white, or pale pink, trumpet flowers. Members of the family are easily spotted but identification between some may be tricky.

Borage Family Boraginaceae

A diverse family that include comfreys, forget-me-nots and buglosses. Usually blue, but not always, and with five petals although sometimes arranged in a tube rather than flat. There are usually several flowers per stem, all facing the same way.

Deadnettle Family Lamiaceae

The deadnettle family are distinctive, not just because of their trumpet shaped flowers, but because they have square stems. A number of familiar garden herbs fall into this category and many emit a strong scent from a crushed leaf. The family includes mints, bugles and woundworts.

Speedwell Family Veronicaceae

Speedwells are mainly blue flowers but some are purple. They have four petals with the top three being larger than the bottom, or lip, one. The family also includes the toadflax sub-family (snapdraggons) with their distinctive two up, three down structure and an opening moth.

Broomrape Family Orobanchaceae

The broomrape family is an interesting one. Some of the species are fully parasitic and get all their nutrients from their host plant and so have no chlorophyll whereas others are semi-parasitic and do have chlorophyll The parasitic plants generally have specific hosts whereas the semi-parasites can be more general and use a range of grasses.

Plantain Family Plantaginaceae

The plantain family is one of those groups of plants that do not seem to have a flower in the accepted sense, they are more like sedges perhaps? It is a small family with five species but so far I have only found four in Dorset but I know sea plantain occurs here.

Bellflower Family Campanulaceae

Bellfowers get their name from their bell shaped flowers - no surprise there then! Actually, not all the family have bell shaped flowers but most do. What they do have in common is that all of the family members have blue flowers. Being lovely plants one or two species that might be encountered are from gardens and not native.

Bedstraw Family Rubiaceae

Whilst a diverse family of plants they all have, in one form or another, clusters of four-petalled flowers. They come in all shapes and sizes ans some can be difficult to tell apart but consideration of the habitat in which it was seen will help narrow down the possibilities.

Valerian Family Valerianaceae

Valerians are attractive plants with clusters of tiny flowers which are very popular with insects. There are three species of Valerian and they are joined by some much smaller cousins, the corn salads.

Teasel Family Dipsacaceae

Teasels are very distinctive plants seemingly having no flowers, just a prickly seed head. The family also contains, however, the scabious flowers, very different in many ways from the conventional teasel appearance; they have blue compound flower heads.

Onion Family Alliaceae

Wild onions, leeks and garlics plus a couple of surprises all fall within the Alliaceae. Usually a single stem supports the cluster of flowers at the top. In onions and leeks this tends to be a globe whereas in leeks they are a collection of larger flowers  all falling downwards to one side. Most have the strong smell associated with culinary versions.

Asparagus Family Asparagaceae

A real mixed bag of species but all members of the same family. Some may look as though they would be more at home in other families, the bluebell in the bellflowers for example. Some of the family are 'normal' fleshy species whilst others are woody. Be prepared for the unexpected!

Daisy Family Compositae

The daisy family is certainly diverse. Its members include dandelions, hawkweeds and thistles and a range of less obvious species. They are known as compositae because they have complex flower structures; some a central cluster with florest around it and other just a cluster of thin, even thread-like, petals.

Orchid Family Orchidaceae

Orchids are usually striking flowers and much sought after by enthusiasts. They generally produce spikes of flowers and in some species they are in tight clusters whereas in other species they are more spread out. Some are fairly big, bold plants, others insignificant and easily overlooked. A diverse family!

Micro Flies

Various families of flies whose species are quite small and hard to identify without magnification.

Cuckoo Wasps

Wasps that lay their eggs in the nest of a host species.