Wildlife at Burton Bradstock
Seeing a bee orchid like a jewel dropped in the grass, listening to a skylark rising with an endless song from the fields or the treat of picking ripe blackberries as you stroll along – these are just a sample of the wildlife highlights you can enjoy on a visit to Burton Bradstock and Cogden.
These places are on the Jurassic Coast; the sea is an ever present influence on the wildlife that inhabits this landscape. The plants and animals are both adapted to and threatened by the wild coastal conditions. Salt spray burns the trees and high winds stunt the hedgerows, but rare birds breed in the reedbeds and scrub along the shore and many fascinating and plants thrive in these marginal places.
Beautiful wildflowers can be seen here at almost any time of year but the best time for appreciating the flora is probably June when the flower display is at its most diverse – take a walk through the fields at Cogden and butterfly, bee, marsh and pyramidal orchids will vie for your attention with dyer’s greenweed, yellow-wort and wild carrot.
As summer goes on the display changes and you’ll see fleabane, knapweed and field scabious, not to mention fungi such as parasols and waxcaps.
There are insects to go with the flowers: bumblebees and hoverflies, dragonflies hawking over the farmland ponds, and lots of different butterflies such as common blue, marbled white and the rare Lulworth skipper.
The Chesil Bank
Down on Chesil Beach, the enormous shingle bank is anchored by a host of specialised plants – those most tolerant of salt include sea kale, yellow horned-poppy and sea sandwort. These plants grow in an unlikely moonscape of salt and pebbles, but their deep roots help to stabilise the beach. On the landward side you can see the beautiful purple/yellow combination of thrift and bird’s foot trefoil or listen to the wind soughing in the reedbed or the croaking of amorous marsh frogs.
Watch the birdie
You’ll probably see kestrels, buzzards and a host of small birds such as stonechat, linnet or the pied wagtails that inhabit Hive Beach car park. The patient birder might spot a selection of waders, gulls and other species both resident and migrant – a huge variety of birds pass through the area, sometimes stopping only for a day or two.
On top of all this, there are more wildlife encounters you might be lucky enough to experience: The occasional seal or dolphin, the strange sight of a strandline silver with washed-up whitebait, the splash of a water vole or even an unexpected adder (dogs beware) basking in the early morning sun.