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About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

17 March, 2013

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

What can I tell you about the hedgehog that you will not already know? One of our best known and most loved of animals, most of us will have been familiar with the hedgehog from our earliest days. When I was young Rag, Tag and Bobtail were 'big' on children's TV , Rag was the hedgehog!

Nowhere near as common as they once were I rarely see one these days. Quite often we see their 'calling card' on the lawn but that is about it.

They were also once frequently seen squashed on the road but that does not seem so frequent these days either.

One of only two true hibernating mammals in the UK (the other is the dormouse) they emerge from their deep sleep in early spring and are desperate for food. Normally nocturnal, when they first wake up they can be seen by day, just like this one, rummaging around for something to eat, especially after rain.

The gardeners friend, they consume vast numbers of slugs and snails as part of a varied diet.

Find out more about the hedgehog here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species/hedgehog

15 March, 2013

The Trailway, Stourpaine, Dorset

One of the railway lines closed in the early 1960 period was the Someset and Dorset railway which ran from Bath to Bournemouth through Sturminster Newton and on to Blandford and beyond. The rails were taken up as salvageable material buy the course of the track remained and in recent years has been recovered and improved to make a long distance footpath and cycle route known now as the Trailway. It is till work in progress but there as a substantial amount now accessible and part of that is at Stourpaine.

Mid March in cold weather is possibly not the best time to see it but it has the advantage of being dry, easy walking in pleasant surroundings. Later in the year it will be very good for flowers and insects so another visit to do some further recording will be needed.

I hestitate to recommend pubs as tastes differ but we parked in the White Horse car park at Stourpaine, popped in and booked a table for lunch and then went for our walk before returning to dine. We thought it was a nice pub; good food, reasoanably priced and nice people too.

Find out what were this is and what we saw here:
www.natureofdorset.co.uk/sites/stourpaine-and-trailway

12 March, 2013

Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina)

My book says this is a very common lichen found on walls, on rocks, on soil and amongst grass, even on lawns and sand dunes. That may be the case but in five years of looking I have only encountered it twice (so far!) It is a large foliose lichen, that is to say, the main body of the lichen, the thallus, are a bit like leaves.

You may be wondering why this is called dog lichen? Even if you are not I will tell you anyway as I went to a lot of trouble to find out! In amongst the leafy bits are root-like structures that resemble dogs teeth. Because of this it was used as a potential cure for rabies but, of course, it did not work. Early chemists thought that if things looked alike then may be they were connected no matter have far apart they are biologically!

Find out more about dog lichen here:
http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species/lichen-p-canina

05 March, 2013

Bestwall and Swineham, Wareham

One days time a bitter easterly wind would not have kept me indoors but these days it is a sure fire way to running eyes, breathlessness and bad temper! So, after two weeks of cold winds and grey skies today was an opportunity not to be missed and this afternoon we headed for one of our favourite local walks that we do when we do not have time to go much further afield, from Wareham past the gravel pits and out to Swineham point.

Not a lot to see today, and the path quite muddy in places, but a joy to be out again and it is just so peaceful at Swineham Point as you are so far away from the nearest road there is no sound of traffic and in winter you are spared the chugging of boat engines too!

I have done this walk many times but I never ceased to be amazed by the lichens, they cover every available branch and twig in places.

Find out more about Bestwell and Swineham here:

01 March, 2013

Brands Bay: Poole Harbour

Much of the Purbeck shore line of Poole Harbour is sadly not openly accessible to the public but in the south eastern corner there is National Trust land that gives access to a part of it known as Brands Bay. At low tide this gives good views across the mud flats of the harbour and is a good spot for waders and wildfowl in general however, it seems that every time I go there the tide is in so my species list is not that good (yet).

You can access Brands Bay from anywhere along the Studland Road near the Sandbanks Ferry. It lies to the west of the road of course and you can park along the roadside (although it is pretty busy in summer) and there are various paths across the heath to the shoreline. There are no footpaths as such but it is open access land and there are well worn paths you can follow although it can be rough going in places and becomes quite wet in winter.

On a clear day the views across the harbour are lovely but I chose to take photographs on a grey day which have not done it justice but I will go back in the summer, get a better species list and some brighter photos.

Find out more about Brands Bay here:
www.natureofdorset.co.uk/sites/brands-bay