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Heathland Wildlife

Heathland Wildlife

Heathland is a haven for some of Britain’s rarest wildlife. An open unique landscape teeming with hidden treasures and historical tales, no two heaths are the same.

The South Downs is home to the only heath in the country where you can find 12 out of 13 of our native reptiles and amphibians. Including the Natterjack Toad,  Sand Lizard  and Adder.

Find out what we are doing to protect this rare and threatened habitat through our Heathlands Reunited Project.

Woodlark Sundew adder

The Silver Studded Blue butterfly has undergone a major decline in numbers during recent years, mainly due to heathland habitat restrictions. It can be found in good numbers on sites across the project area. However this butterfly rarely flies any distance, sometimes moving less then 20m in its lifetime. There is hope that the project will enable the silver studded to spread through the creation of wildlife corridors.

Nightjars suffered a huge decline in the 1980’s due to the loss of heathland habitats and are particularly vulnerable to disturbance as they nest on the ground. In summer the sky is punctuated with the churring cry of the nightjar at dawn and dusk, when it makes its annual migration here all the way from Southern Africa.

The Woodlark also nests on the ground and its favourite habitat is the low and open vegetation of the heaths. Its nesting season begins earlier than that of the Nightjar’s, starting in March.

In the National Park’s wetter heaths and mires, you’ll find sphagnum moss and the insectivorous sundew plant, which can consume up to 3000 bothersome midges a year.



"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."