The jewel in the crown for biodiversity - not to mention geology - around the southern English coast is the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, which together with Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour hosts a super-abundance of flora and fauna.
Concentrating here on just one small section confirms that it would take a complete website to do justice to the area as a whole.
Studland Beach is seven kilometres long and attracts more than a million visitors a year. In contrast, the adjacent 600-plus hectare National Nature Reserve comprising Studland and Godlingston Heaths, consisting of dunes, wetland, heathland and woodland, apparently has little drawing power for the public at large. In three sessions lasting 12 hours on Godlingston Heath in early July 2006, I saw one cyclist, eight horse riders and no other pedestrians.
Since the habitats are fragile and could not cope with a massive influx of walkers, bikers or holidaymakers, this human shortfall is exactly what the environmental doctor ordered.
What the absent visitors are missing, and what their very absence helps safeguard, is a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, some of which is extremely rare.
A portion of this wildlife is shown on other pages of this website, but that still leaves plenty to spare for the following two pages, focusing on some of the glories of the two heaths.
Images © Jeremy Early. All rights reserved.
In 2013 I published My Side of the Fence - the Natural History of a Surrey Garden. Details may be found, and orders placed, via this hyperlink My Side of the Fence. In November 2015 Surrey Wildlife Trust published the atlas Soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae of Surrey, jointly written by David Baldock and me. Details are on this web page: Atlas.