The dunes are home to many species which are perfectly adapted to live in the naturally shifting sand and the mosaic of habitat types that can be found in healthy dune systems.

From toads and lizards to butterflies and orchids, there are many different species that our work will help to protect. Some are rare while others are more common, but each of these species are specially adapted for life in a healthy sand dune environment. Meet some of our dune wildlife below, learn about the kinds of dune habitats they live in, and the conservation actions we’re taking to protect them.


Bee Orchid

The flower itself mimics the appearance of a female bee as its aim is to attract male bee pollinators with the promise of mating and a feast of nectar.



The yellow flowers tinged with pink have given this plant many different common names one of which is “eggs and bacon”!


Carder bee

The carder bee is the most common of three ginger bee species in the UK and appears fluffy without a white tail.



Legend has it that when King Arthur of Tintagel died, he transformed into a chough and the bird is now a symbol of Cornwall, sitting atop the county’s coat of arms

Image: Gail Hampshire

Dartford warbler

The males of the species build the delicate nests from grass and moss, building it near to the ground.

A small bright purple cluster of flowers is photographed among low green vegetation

Dune Gentian

This tiny. purple-flowering plant is endemic to the UK and is one of the rarest species you might spot on a dune.


Eurasian Skylark

Did you know that this beautiful songbird can also be a helpful farm assistant? It will sometimes eat the seeds of weeds in cultivated fields!

Kenfig NNR - Fen Orchid

Fen Orchid

In June, my tiny yellow flowers add sunny splashes of colour to the landscape, but there are very few habitats left in the UK that I can live in!

Great crested newt

Great Crested Newt

Sand dunes are a great place for me to live, especially when the dune system is made up of a mosaic of different habitat

Donna Nook seal

Grey Seal

One of the most famous animals to live on the Lincolnshire coast, but I’m also one of the rarest seals in the world!


Heather (bell and cross leaved)

Heather is an important food source for pollinators on our sand dunes, and dune heath is a rare habitat type in the UK.



By keeping the dunes healthy and restoring sites with low biodiversity, we create habitats which able to support a diverse population of smaller birds and mammals, which are able to support kestrel populations.


Marram Grass

You may have guessed that Marram grass is tolerant of salty conditions, but it is also well adapted to wide daily temperature fluctuations and can even grow in places where the water table is far below ground.


Meadow Pipit

Their common name suggests you would only find a meadow pipit in meadows, but this is the not the case! Find them in open land with low vegetation.

An olive coloured toad with a yellow stripe down its back can be seen sat on wet sand

Natterjack Toad

My rough, warty skin is olive green and brown, and I have a long yellow line on my back.



Nightjar are a rare sight, nesting on the ground during the day making them hard to spot but walking at dusk you may be lucky to view the nightjar silhouetted against the open night sky.

A brown beetle with long legs and cream patches sat on sand

Northern Dune Tiger Beetle

Can you see the large mandibles, a bit like pincers, near my mouth? I use these to dismember my prey!



Despite my name, I don’t actually have petals!



I used to live in lots of dune habitats all across the UK, where I was an important part of life in the dunes: my grazing would keep grassland short and by digging my burrows, I would keep patches of sand bare and encourage sand movement through the dunes.


Reindeer lichen

Did you know? Reindeer actually do eat reindeer lichen! In colder climates, this species is an important food source in the winter.


Ruddy Darter

Ruddy darter dragonflies can catch their food faster than they can eat it. They have even been observed hoarding up to eight fruit flies in their mouth parts at once!

Sand Lizard 2

Sand Lizard

I love basking in the sun on bare sand, however, you will be lucky to spot many of my friends as we are one of the UK’s rarest reptiles.


Sandy Earthtongue

Sandy earthtongue is a very environmentally sensitive fungus, and has been seen on our dunes at Studland Bay.

scrambled egg lichen

Scrambled Egg Lichen

Its common name gives a clue of what to look out for as it really does look like scrambled egg!


Sea holly

Despite its similar name and resemblance, Sea holly is not related to the holly (Ilex) that we associate with Christmas – although it’s spikiness will produce a similar injury if not handled with care!


Sheep’s bit

Sheep do enjoy eating this plant but it is also known as “blue bonnets”, “blue buttons” and “Sheep’s bit Scabious”.


Silver-Studded Blue Butterfly

I’m a big favourite with Cornwall’s sand dune visitors in the summer months.


White tailed bumble bee

Did you know? The white-tailed bumble bee can be a pollen thief!