The coastal strip s mostly composed of chalk grassland - a semi-natural habitat which has evolved during 5000 years of grazing by farm animals. Steep slopes and poor, thin, well drained soils support the richest habitat in Britain for plants and insects. Today the grassland is grazed by cattle or sheep and is carefully managed by tenant farmers without the use of fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. Areas that are uneconomic to farm are managed by the Estate for the benefit of wildlife under The Lulworth Grassland Project.
In 1832 J C Dale discovered a new species of British butterfly and named it after the place he found it - hence the Lulworth Skipper. From early June to mid September these rare and attractive 'thumbnail' sized butterflies can be seen here in long grass by the edge of the paths. A total of 32 species of butterfly can be found here throughout the year.
The British Butterfly Conservation Society is based on the Estate, occupying the refurbished 18th Century works yard in East Lulworth. www.butterfly-conservation.org
In both spring and summer the grasslands are festooned with a wide variety of beautiful wild flowers. Some of these are particularly rare including five species of orchid; bee, green-winged, early purple; pyramidal and twayblade. However many flowers are common and can be seen in huge numbers. Look out for ox-eye daisies, viper's bugloss, alexanders, thrift, wild thyme, violets and vetches. In the spring, the north facing slope of Bindon Hill supports over 250,000 cowslips. Please admire all the flowers and leave them for others to enjoy.
The cliffs are home to a wide variety of birds - look out for kittiwake, shags, cormorants and fulmar. Lulworth is an important stop-over for migrant birds in spring and autumn. The hill tops are marvelous places to lie on your back and enjoy the soaring songs of the rare skylarks. The grassland is home to stonechats, yellowhammers, wheatears and in recent years dartford warblers. Birds of prey can always be seen on a fine day, buzzards soaring, kestrels hovering and if you are very lucky, peregrine stooping.
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