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June 2013

Newsletter · June 2013

Lighthouse Road

Swanage BH19 2JL

Friends 25th Anniversary Celebration


Our 25th celebration evening was attended by over 100 Friends of Durlston on a glorious warm sunny June evening.  This number of people made logistics a little tricky but we coped (I think). 


With Anne & Angela on the bar, Ben and the 3 Richards (Dyer, Lane & Smith) cooking the BBQ, and Catherine, Davina, Heather and others on the salads the food was delivered perfectly and almost on time (only delayed by Katie’s welcome speech!). 


Katie’s fiendish quiz on the history of Durlston stumped many, but it was only really a reminder of the many and varied things that the Friends have been involved in over the last 25 years.


A recap of the years from Hamish (Head Ranger), Robin (previous Senior Ranger) and Katie (current Senior Ranger) highlighted a few of the projects, fun, issues and opportunities that have arisen.


‘Wildlife Havens and Landscapes’: Richard Tratt Exhibition


From the 14th – 24th June, Durlston Castle will host an exhibition of new work by top wildlife artist, Richard Tratt.


Richard is a painter of British landscapes and wildlife.  As a young boy he developed a consuming interest in Natural History, with a particular fascination for butterflies and moths.


Richard’s work, in oils on canvas has received ‘The Artist’ magazines ‘Art in Nature’ prize and he was a 2008 and 2009 Finalist in the Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition.


An opening evening on the 14th June (starting at 6.30pm) offers the chance to take a first look at the exhibition and meet the artist, who will be creating new work, featuring Durlston’s landscapes and wildlife during the exhibition – do come along and have a look!


The exhibition “Wildlife Havens and Landscapes” is open daily between 11am and 4pm, in the Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle – entry is free and all work is for sale.


Classical Music


The latest in our popular series of classical music evenings takes place on the 30th June, with a concert by Piotr Kopek (violin), Helen Simpson (Oboe) and Patricia Bonelli (Piano). Music will include Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe, music by Cimarosa, violin showpieces and more. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £8, with parking included on advance sales. 


Rude Mechanical Theatre Company


We are delighted to be welcoming back the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company with their new outdoor show ‘Harlequin Goes to the Moon’. The Rudes have been delighting audiences at Durlston for many years now, with their unique blend of magical storytelling, music and slapstick comedy.


They will be performing near the Learning Centre on Saturday 13th July at 7.30pm (gates open at 7pm for picnics) and tickets are £12/£11/£9.


Durlston Bus


The Durlston bus continues this month, and will be running daily until the end of September, with half-hourly pickups from around Swanage (pick up a timetable or download from our website).  With the route taking in the Hospital as well as the Pier, Railway, car parks and Durlston it is a great way to get around town.


Do make use of the bus – it is excellent value and takes concessionary passes.  The more use it gets, the more likely it is we may be able to continue it in future years.




This summer Durlston will be hosting several student work placements to help with the day to day running of Durlston.


Some of the placements are up to eight weeks and of course being students most can’t afford to hire out private accommodation at Swanage prices. If you are able to offer a room and the use of facilities in exchange for a suitable charge then please contact Simon ASAP.


‘The Wild Side of Purbeck’


Another great exhibition runs from the 6th – 28th July, when award-winning landscape photographer Andy Farrer and wildlife photographer Julian Sawyer will be exploring ‘The Wild Side of Purbeck’. The exhibition will feature Purbeck’s iconic landscapes and wildlife, as well as some hidden gems and all work will be for sale. 


Conservation Committee


This month saw the second Durlston Wildlife Conservation Committee take place consisting of wildlife professionals, naturalist and enthusiasts from a range of backgrounds.


The aim of this committee is to discuss and plan ecological monitoring, funding, project management, volunteer input, potential research projects and in depth habitat management prescriptions to ensure that Durlston’s wildlife is managed and conserved to the highest degree now and into future.


Wildlife Roundup


Throughout May it appeared that some ‘normal’ seasonal weather had returned to the reserve with successive days of fine, sunny weather.


Scattered throughout the meadows, utilising unique growing conditions wild flowers have included Beaked Hawksbeard, Common Vetch, Birds-foot Trefoil, Pale Flax, Southern Marsh Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Field Speedwell, Adders-tongue Fern, and Figwort.


Growing amongst the shadows of large clumps of scrub and woodland small patches of Twayblade, Hartstongue Fern and the dominant Stinking Iris were all noted.


The downland can be seen at its best at present with large swathes of Horseshoe Vetch intermixed with Chalk Milkwort complementing each other in their petal colouration.


A good spread of Early English Gentian can also be seen around the Lighthouse Field, whilst down on the edges above the cliffs Thrift, Kidney Vetch, Portland Spurge, Sea Campion, Sea Lavender and Wild Cabbage are all in bloom.


With the wonderful variety of nectaring resources available Butterflies are finally playing catch up with our last transect on the 8/6 recording 13 species – Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Large White, Small Copper, Small Blue, Brown Argos, Common Blue, Adonis, Blue, Holly Blue, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown and Small Heath.


Major highlight of the month (or perhaps the year!) and a first for Durlston was a Swallowtail Butterfly seen along the coast path by Tilly Whim by a visitor on 2/6.


Moths on the other hand have continued to be very poor in abundance with only a couple of catches having species in double figures. A selection of some of the more attractive species included Eyed Hawkmoth, Silver Y, Chinese Character, Pebble Prominent, Common Swift, Peppered Moth, Small Emerald and Marbled Minor.


A worrying first glance at the results from this years breeding bird survey and casual sightings indicate that the recent run of poor weather has effected numbers of many of Durlston resident and migrant breeding birds. More details to come.  However, with the sun shining on fine mornings it was a pleasure to hear and see birds on territories including Stonechat, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Bullfinch, Song Thrush and Linnet amongst the many other species of common bird.


With most of spring bird migration over, late passage birds included Yellow Wagtail 15/5, Cuckoo 17/5, Reed Warbler 17/5, Garden Warbler, 24/5, Willow Warbler 17/5, Wheatear 17/5, Sedge Warbler 22/5, Hobby 22/5, Whinchat 21/5, Mute Swan 12/6, Tree Sparrow 12/6, over 100 Spotted Flycatchers on 1/6 and the highlight of 2 Serin spotted across the meadows on 21st and 31st May.


The 2013 Purbeck Seabird Survey has now been completed. On first appearance it appears that there are winners and loses this year with Guillemot, Shag, Cormorant and Kittiwake down in numbers with some colonies along the Purbeck Coast being smaller or dispersed.


However, Razorbills seem to be doing a little better with new breeding ledges noted, whilst Fulmars and Puffins appeared to be approximately constant compared to the previous 2 years. More details to follow.


At last the ‘summer’ species of fish have arrived in the waters around Durlston with Garfish & Smooth Hound appearing and eventually being joined by Mackerel. The local skippers all agree that the species have all turned up almost exactly a month late (most keep accurate catch records).

Following the fish have been some Bottlenose Dolphins providing some good views from the cliffs of pods of up to 10 individuals including a youngster.


Goodbye From Marcia


Firstly, congratulations to the FoDs on their 25th Anniversary.  What a fantastic milestone of support for Durlston, and all who sail in her.


I can totally understand the loyalty and love for this place, even after just a couple of terms in office as an Estate Worker.  I will be very sad to leave but it is time to move on to pastures (meadows, cliffs, castles etc) anew.


I have been so lucky to have not only been part of the Ranger team but also the work party crews on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Thanking everyone for their support, friendship, hard grafting and encouragement cannot be put into words but “Thank you, I couldn’t have achieved it without you and I’ve had an absolute ball along the way!” You are all amazing.


I won’t say Goodbye as, weird and wonderful job and volunteer applications aside, I intend to visit and lend a hand whenever I can. 


Next Friends Evening:


Tuesday 2nd July 7.30pm


‘The Life of Durlston


An evening of the talks & videos we didn’t manage to fit in during the 25th Anniversary night or the option a guided walk - take your pick on the night.


Meet at the Learning Centre for a 7.30pm start.


The Friends evenings are free to members, they usually include a talk by a guest speaker, a Ranger’s round-up of the month past and ahead, Wildlife summary and a complimentary cup of tea or coffee – they generally last about 1 ½ hours.


Guided Walks & Events · June

For bookings & info phone 01929 424443 · ·

Meet at Castle unless stated otherwise. Walks last about 1½ hours & for Friends of Durlston cost just £2


Friday 14 June-Monday 24 June, 11am-4pm

‘Wildlife Havens and Landscapes’: Recent Paintings of Durlston & Dorset by Richard Tratt

Exhibition of new work by internationally renowned wildlife artist Richard Tratt. Meet the artist, who will be painting during the exhibition. FREE


Friday 14 June 6.30pm -8.30pm

‘Wildlife Havens and Landscapes’: Evening Preview

Meet the artist and enjoy our new exhibition of wildlife paintings by Richard Tratt. All welcome. FREE


Saturday 15 June, 10.30am

Meet a Moth!

Join a Ranger as they delve into last night’s moth trap. Donations welcome. Meet LC.


Sunday 16 June, 2.30pm

Butterflies & Wildflowers

Walk to enjoy Durlston’s amazing wildlife – butterflies, wildflowers and more! £3


Thursday 20 June, 10.30am

Castle Tour

A half-hour tour of Durlston Castle. Donations welcome.


Sunday 23 June, 2.30pm

Midsummer Meadows

Explore Durlston’s colourful meadows with botanist Ted Pratt. £3


Wednesday 26 June, 10.30am

Clifftop Tour

Half-hour tour - seabirds, flowers and spectacular views. Donations welcome.


Saturday 29 June, 10.30am

Beginner’s Guide to Moths – Part 1

Course to discover these beautiful and fascinating insects. Please book. Part 2 on Saturday 6 July. Meet LC. £20


Sunday 30 June, 2.30pm

Wild Summer

Gentle stroll to enjoy Durlston’s summer wildlife. £3


Sunday 30 June 7.30pm

Classical Music: Oboe, Violin and Piano

Evening of music with Piotr Kopek (violin), Helen Simpson (Oboe) and Patricia Bonelli (piano).

Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe and more…£8. Parking included on advance sales. 


Tuesday 2 July, 10.30am

Castle Tour

A half-hour tour of Durlston Castle. Donations welcome.


Friday 5 July 6.30pm – 8pm

‘The Wild Side of Purbeck': Preview Evening

Enjoy this exhibition of landscape and wildlife images and meet photographers Andy Farrer and

Julian Sawyer. FREE. All welcome


Saturday 6 – Sunday 28 July, 11am-5pm

‘The Wild Side of Purbeck’: Photographic Exhibition

Andy Farrer is an award-winning landscape photographer. Julian Sawyer prefers to get up close and personal with wildlife. Work for sale. FREE


See the events guide for the rest of July’s events