Living on the edge

A stormy day at Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock, West Dorset

The wildlife that you will see at Burton Bradstock and Cogden is both adapted to and threatened by the wild coastal conditions. Salt burns the plants, while high winds permanently stunt trees and hedges. But migratory birds breed in the reedbeds and scrub along the shore and many fascinating plants thrive in these marginal places.

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Some wildlife highlights


Wildflowers growing on the shingle at Cogden beach

Wildflowers growing on the shingle at Cogden beach

Thrift, sea kale and bird's foot trefoil help to anchor the shifting shingle of Chesil beach. The organic pasture is home to several orchid species: you may spot pyramidal, butterfly and bee orchids on your walk through the farmland. Wild carrot grows in profusion along with the miniature yellow spikes of agrimony.

Yellow-wort inhabits the thinnest soils - look out for its curious grey-green leaves - and the SSSI areas are home to exceptional amounts of the very rare dyer's greenweed. Among the purple flowers of knapweed, don't miss the more delicate blooms of field scabious.  And in patches of scrub, look out for stinking iris with its striking orange fruits through the winter.


Adam and Ellen Simon of Tamarisk Farm at West Bexington graze the pastures at Cogden with their herd of organic Red Devon cows. Also look out for interesting breeds of sheep, such as Jacob and Hebridean. You can buy the delicious beef, lamb and mutton at Tamarisk Farm Shop

Bindbarrow hill at Hive Beach is grazed by Peter and Gill Mayo's organic cows and sheep. You can get your hands on this meat at Maydown Farm Shop in Burton Bradstock.

Please keep control of your dog and always give the livestock you meet plenty of space.


You don’t need to bring your parasol to Hive beach - we’ve got our own!

The grasslands here are home to many interesting fungi, including waxcaps and parasols.

Also look out for Jew's ear which makes its home on dead elder.  You may see yellow brain fungus, unmistakable on gorse bushes.


Look out for the marbled white at Cogden

Look out for the marbled white at Cogden

The marbled white is one of several butterflies which you may encounter around Cogden. If you're lucky, you may spot the elusive Lulworth skipper on the tor grass at Hive beach. Also look out for large numbers of common blues.


Skylarks breed in the organic pasture at Cogden

Skylarks breed in the organic pasture at Cogden

The organic pasture at Cogden with its patches of scrub is used by breeding skylarks. Also look out for willow warbler and blackcap, which arrive in the spring. You may spot a kestrel hunting for small mammals.

Wildlife news

Volunteer Ecologist John Newbould will be producing regular newsletters about the wildlife at our Dorset coast and countryside sites.

They will include results from his wildlife surveys, details of our latest conservation work and upcoming events. Here's the first issue, for autumn 2014.