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.

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Chough

See all species Choughs are a rare sight, found in small numbers in Britain only on the western extremities where the coast meets the Atlantic Sea. It is this habitat which provides open ground of exposed sandy soil and short-grazed grasses, ideal for hunting invertebrates and larvae with its probing, curved bill and where it…

Early English Gentian

Early Gentian

Related to the dune gentian (Gentianella uliginosa), I am a tiny plant, no more than an inch or two tall, which lives in dune grassland.

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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!

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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!

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Kestrel

See all species Kestrels are a naturally solitary bird, communicating most vocally during the breeding season. They are territorial and are known to fly under intruder birds, rising upwards to push them away. When hunting, they can be seen hovering into the sea breeze, looking intently down for prey, which are typically voles, mice and…

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Meadow Pipit

See all species Their common name suggests you would only find a meadow pipit in meadows but this is the not the case! Their preference is for open land with low vegetation. As a consequence meadow pipits, a songbird with a high, piping call, can be found year round on coastal sand dunes and sand…

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Natterjack Toad

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

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Nightjar

See all species In the spring, nightjars arrive to Britain from Africa with the purpose of breeding, the males attracting their mate by clapping their wings and undertaking frenzied flights. They are a rare sight, nesting on the ground during the day making them hard to spot but walking at dusk you may be lucky…

Northern Dune Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hybrida) on dune system at Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Merseyside, UK. May. Photographer: Alex Hyde

Northern Dune Tiger Beetle

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

Petalwort

Petalwort

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

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Rabbit

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.

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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.

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Silver-Studded Blue Butterfly

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