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Wildlife - November

Although most summer visitors have left us, migration is still a key feature of Durlston's birdlife: finches, buntings, larks, pipits and thrushes can be seen, flying over the Downs on their way south.

Redwings and Fieldfares may be seen around the Gully, feeding on the rich harvest of haws. Twittering flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets glean seeds from the fields and noisy flocks of Long-tailed Tits are a frequent sight. Look out for Merlins, our smallest bird of prey, and the magnificent Short-eared Owl, which often hunts in daylight.

Wildflowers are mostly over but fungi now bedeck the downland slopes including the Parasol mushroom. Some species are poisonous so if in any doubt, leave well alone!

Bottlenose Dolphins are often seen from the clifftop path at this time of year. Please report any sightings to the Rangers. Guillemots, Razorbills and Shags frequent Durlston Bay while Fulmars may be spotted, prospecting the cliffs. Look out for Peregrines and Ravens, occasionally engaging in spectacular dogfights. Further out at sea, Gannets, Kittiwakes, seaduck and Divers may pass in good numbers, especially during Easterly winds. Several over-wintering Great Skuas have been recorded in recent years.

Along the clifftop, Rock Pipits are never far away while Black Redstarts are sometimes seen around Tilly Whim. Stonechats may sit conspicuously atop a gorse bush while a Blackcap or even a Dartford Warbler may be glimpsed skulking in the scrub. Ivy blossom, often the only source of nectar at this time of year, will attract late hoverflies and Red Admiral butterflies.

Flocks of small birds foraging through the woods may include: Marsh and Coal Tits, Treecreepers, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. With luck, a rare Firecrest might be glimpsed amongst the branches. Hungry Sparrowhawks are an ever-present danger for the smaller woodland birds. Beech nuts, Horse Chestnut conkers and Holm Oak acorns all provide welcome winter food for birds and animals including Grey Squirrels and noisy Jays. As the deciduous trees lose their leaves the fine tracery of branches and twigs is revealed. Evergreen shrubs become more evident including the native Spurge Laurel and exotic Japanese Spindle. Among the numerous fungi on the woodland floor lurks the deadly poisonous Death Cap (if you're in any doubt about the fungi leave well alone).