Saturday, 30 April 2016

Durlston Country Park, Swanage and RSPB Arne

I'M not sure what plant twitching is called, but yesterday we took a longish drive to hunt out early spider orchids on the coast near Swanage at Durlston Country Park managed by Dorset CC.  

This wonderful reserve is made up of sea cliffs, rough grassland and meadows, and with views over to the Isle of Wight, on a sunny day there can be no place better.  We were slightly challenged by a cold, penetrating wind which reduced the bird song, but did not affect the orchids of course.

Looking out to sea, a peregrine had a great view of the raft of bathing guillemots.

The warblers mainly hid in the scrub but the occasional white-throat scratched out its song on a tall bramble. A pair of stonechats showed in the sunshine, cracking stones from a gorse bush.

We accidentally flushed the occasional deer from the scrub, which dashed off seemingly towards the cliff edge..

The early spider orchids did not disappoint and were so much more spectacular then I remembered. Walking through the reserve and beyond onto the NT land we soon came across the occasional spike and then large clusters of early spider orchid.

For the botanical geeks amongst you a number of other plants starting to show, including small patches of bastard toadflax (Thesium humifusum

We walked a loop further in land through the wonderful meadows, filled with nodding yellow cowslips.

Two other orchids (green-winged and early purple) were flowering on the reserve.

Early purple orchid

We loved the County Park and with some time left we headed onto RSPB's Arne reserve for a quick whiz round. There was not much showing and frankly I was a bit disappointed, which is unfair to this fabulous site, but when we reached the car park again there was a surprise or two.

The bird feeders were awash with small birds and woodpeckers drummed the trees around us.  Then my wife spotted that there was a fox under the feeder (I totally missed this!) and it gave us some great views - it seemed pretty unaffected by our presence.


Can't wait to go back.


  1. I'm not sure what plant twitching is called but it's a wonderful way to spend the day - at least they don't fly away! The spider orchids seem to be putting on a good show.

  2. Yes - they were truly wonderful John.


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