Springwatch boosts passion for nature on Swanage Downs

With a magnifying glass focussed on Purbeck’s wildlife by the BBC TV programme Springwatch, there’s plenty of enthusiasm for getting involved in nature surveys and walks on Swanage’s newly designated local nature reserve (LNR).

Peveril Point and the Downs LNR to the south of Swanage was officially launched in April 2023 and now a Friends group has been created for all those who want to take part in surveying all the birds, butterflies, wildflowers and insects.

Swanage Downs wildlife surveys

The beautiful Swanage Downs is now designated as a local nature reserve protecting it from development and ensuring that it is looked after

Creating a record of species on the Downs

Wildlife surveys are now happening on a regular basis to create a record of what species live on the Downs and more people are welcome to come along and join in.

In the past there’s been good record keeping about wildflowers on the Downs but less is known about the insects on the site.

Bird survey
Sustainable Swanage

Friends of Peveril Point and the Downs undertake regular bird surveys…

Swanage Downs wildlife surveys

…and butterfly surveys

“Springwatch in your back garden!”

Leading on the creation of the Friends of Peveril Point and the Downs group is Sarah Spurling from Sustainable Swanage. She said:

“If you’ve been inspired by Springwatch, then joining the Friends group is a great way to learn more about the local wildlife.

“You can meet local experts and learn how to identify different species. We have such an amazing local habitat on the Downs that it’s possible to find something quite rare, which is exciting.

“You don’t have to be an expert to join in, as many of us are still learning how to identify certain species. It’s just about encouraging people to look closer at what’s around them – Springwatch in your back garden!”

Burnet campion (day flying moth) on yellow rattle

Burnet campion – a day flying moth on yellow rattle

Speckled Wood butterfly

Spotted among the trees on the Downs, a speckled wood butterfly

Bioblitz – a census for wildlife

As well as the walks and surveys across Peveril Point and the Downs, there’s other events planned too, including a Big Summer Search. Also known as a Bioblitz, the aim is to record as many species as possible in a day.

People are invited to turn up at the Bioblitz gazebo hub on the Downs near the Broad Road car park from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday 24th June 2023.

The idea is for as many people as possible to scour the site, taking photographs of all the wildlife they encounter and then staff from the Dorset Environmental Records Centre will be on hand to help identify species. It’s like a census for wildlife.

The day will include two guided walks:

  • Birdsong guided walk 8 am to 9 am – meet at the top of the Downs at the Bellevue Road entrance
  • Wildflower and butterfly walk 11 am to 12 noon – starting from the gazebo hub
Swanage Downs wildlife surveys

Identifying grasses

Sorting out the moths from the butterflies

Wildlife of Swanage and Purbeck open evening

Anyone who is keen to join the Friends group may also want to come along to the Sustainable Swanage open evening on the theme of The Wildlife of Swanage and Purbeck.

It’s at the Emmanuel Baptist Church from 6.30 pm for 7pm on Tuesday 20th June 2023.

Well known local botanist and author Ted Pratt will be there to talk about how to ID wildflowers, as well as representatives and volunteers from Purbeck Natural History Forum, Durlston Country Park, British Dragonfly society, and Swanage Swifts.

Event diary

  • Friends wildflower surveying – 10 am to 12 pm on Tuesday 20th June 2023
  • Sustainable Swanage open evening – The Wildlife of Swanage and Purbeck 6.30 pm for 7pm Tuesday 20th June 2023 at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria Avenue
  • Friends Bioblitz – 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday 24th June 2023
  • Friends wildflower surveying – 10 am to 12 pm on Tuesday 27th June 2023

Meeting place for all Friends events is at the top of the site by Bellevue Road entrance near the wildlife interpretation panel, except for the Bioblitz, which starts at the gazebo near Broad Road car park.

Swanage Downs wildlife surveys

The Friends group starts to make a record of butterflies on the Downs

Swanage Downs local nature reserve launch

The Downs, people and Swanage – bringing them all together to create a Friends group

Further information

  • Join the Friends of Peveril Point and the Downs by coming along to an event and signing up or by contacting Sarah Spurling via Sustainable Swanage
  • Follow the Friends of Peveril Point and the Downs via Facebook

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