Heathland - what to see

Many paths and tracks on the heathland make it easy to enjoy all parts of the heath. When you visit, please follow the Heathland Code or read the summary version.

Heathland birds

The insects attract a variety of birds to the heaths:

  • Dartford Warbler: a rare bird of the southern heathland, can be seen flitting across the tops of the heath all year, has a distinctive long tail and scratchy song
  • Hobby: bird of prey that may be seen swooping down for dragonflies during the summer months
  • Nightjar: a strange metallic churr can be heard at dusk in the summer months

Heathland insects

  • Wasp spiders - black and yellow and build their webs in grassland
  • Silver studded blue butterfly
  • Grayling butterfly
  • Small red damselfly
  • Heath grasshopper
  • Bog bush cricket
  • Green tiger beetle 

Heathland plants

The main plants you can find on Poole's heathland are:

  • Common heather - (ling)
  • Bell heather - brightly coloured flowers
  • Bristle bent grass - short tufts
  • Common and western gorse

in the wetter areas, you'll find:

  • Cross-leaved heath - pale flowers
  • Cotton grass - cotton-wool balls
  • Bog asphodel - yellow flower spikes
  • Sundews - tiny sticky red leaves that trap insects

Heathland reptiles

All 6 British reptiles can be found on the heaths of South East Dorset and include:

  • Smooth Snake - Britain's most rare, non-venomous snake can be found in deep heather
  • Sand lizard - Britain's most rare lizard can be seen basking on the edge of sandy tracks
  • Adder - Britain's only venomous snake, it tries to avoid all contact with humans and dogs and will only bite as a last method of defence
  • Common lizard - likes basking in open, sunny places
  • Grass snake - a non-venomous, sun-loving snake. It has a distinctive black 'collar' around it's neck
  • Slow worm - is, in fact, a lizard but without legs. It's not a snake as appearances suggest
More information can be found in the reptile guide.
Page last updated: 29 January 2019
Help us improve poole.gov.uk
This is just for feedback on our website, not comments or questions about our services. Feedback on services will not be passed on. To tell us anything else, contact us.

Please don't include any personal or financial information.