Wild places to visit and exciting wildlife adventures to enjoy with Dorset Wildlife Trust

Let's go rockpooling! 

Peering into one of Dorset’s rock pools (like these two people rockpooling at Kimmeridge, above) sparks curiosity whatever your age and, hopefully, a love of nature. With May’s two Bank Holidays, the one at the end of the month taking in half term, it's a great time to visit the coast before the summer crowds descend. Here are a few shoreline species to look out for when rockpooling.

Cushion Star: This small, thick starfish (pictured left) with five short broad arms (occasionally four or six arms) is found on all western and southern coasts of the UK. They feed at night, eating whatever they can find. Cushion stars are echinoderms, which means ‘spiny skinned’ and they are covered in short orange spines. Its most commonly pale orange, brown, green or cream in colour.

Thick Topshell: Also known as the toothed topshell, this sea snail is found on rocky shores grazing on algae from the rocks at high tide. Their conical whorled shells are pale grey with a maroon zig-zag pattern and mother of pearl on the inside. It can be distinguished from similar, snail-like periwinkles and topshells by the 'tooth' just inside the mouth of the shell.

Furrowed Crab: Though they are more common in Devon and Cornwall, in 2019 furrowed crabs were found in Dorset. Their newfound presence is thought to be due to climate change. Yellow-brown in colour, they have a distinctively furrowed carapace and big, powerful claws.

Don't disturb any wildlife when rockpooling and leave everything as you found it. Check tide times before setting off. Find more wildlife-friendly activities at dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk


Great British Life: Early purple orchid. Early purple orchid. (Image: Paul Lane)

Flower of the Month: Early purple orchid 

Bluebells might be the blockbuster star of our woodland flora in April and May, but the early purple orchid’s bright fuchsia-pink blooms (left) are just as striking. This rare wildflower is found in ancient woodlands, open grassland, hedgerows and banksides. Its flowering spikes stand up to 40cms tall with up to 50 purple flowers standing in a dense cone shape at its peak. The plant forms a rosette of glossy, dark green, spotted leaves which can appear as early as January.


Great British Life: Cushion star.Cushion star. (Image: Julie Hatcher))

Speak up for nature 

Last year’s State of Nature report revealed that 16% of species across Great Britain are at risk of extinction. Dorset Wildlife Trust, alongside all Wildlife Trusts and with the support of our members and volunteers, are working to turn the tide and get nature back on track. But we need politicians at every level to fight for the survival of species at risk. In local elections and beyond, ask your candidates what they will do for nature and wildlife if elected.


Great British Life: Thick-legged flower beetle. Thick-legged flower beetle. (Image: Tom Hibbert)

Flower Beetles 

With adults active between April and September, you might spot a thick-legged flower beetle (Oedemera nobilis) among the blooms in your garden or nearby park this month. They have bright green, shiny bodies, and the males have bulging thighs on their hind legs (pictured). It feeds on nectar and pollen from flowers, helpfully pollinating the plants as it finds its food. It is particularly fond of visiting flowers such as ox-eye daisy and cow parsley.