Tiny Sand Crocus, flowering here and at only one other UK site, are amongst almost 600 different types of flowering plant found here. Many beautiful Orchid species can be seen in the meadow throughout the year, including Bee Orchid and Autumn Lady’s-tresses.
The fantastic network of habitats - including sand dunes, wildflower meadow, copses, saltmarsh, reed beds, and ponds – ensure plant life flourishes. This in turn, provides foraging and shelter for invertebrates, reptiles and birds. Look out for the day flying Jersey tiger-moth, colourful dragonflies such as the Ruddy Darter, and the rare, internationally protected Sand Lizards who roam the dunes. The saltmarsh and mudflats are a particularly valuable refuge for thousands of migratory and resident waterbirds.
The sensitive and specialised nature of Dawlish Warren affords protection by a number of conservation designations. Falling within the Exe estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA), it is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – recognised for important sand dune systems and a tiny plant called Petalwort. A type of Liverwort plant, it is internationally protected and very easily missed as they are about 10-15 millimeters across! As the plant is so small, it is easily shaded out by taller, more dense vegetation and easily damaged by heavy boots trampling over it. Management usually centres around keeping vegetation and rates of footfall at the right levels to help the plant grow. Want to know more about the state of this tiny survivor at the Warren? Read more about the monitoring assessment of petalwort at Dawlish Warren here.