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Studland Heath Troublefield
Grid Reference SZ 12443 97700
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Troublefield is a small nature reserve managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust on the banks of the Moors River near Hurn Village, famous as being the last known UK haunt of the Orange-spotted Emerald. According to the sign there have been 28 species of dragonfly recorded at the site, although you are unlikely to see anywhere near that many throughout the season unless you're very observant and extremely lucky. However I cannot underestimate the sheer wealth of diversity found within it's bounderies.

Springtime and early summer is especially noteworthy for the wealth of wild flowers found within the water meadows which, besides offering a rich source of nectar for butterflies and other insects, provide excellent perching opportunities for many dragonflies.

In late summer this is one of the best spots to observe Migrant, Brown and Southern Hawkers which, in the case of the former, I was lucky enough to witness the fantastic display of over 50 individuals soaring above the meadow and perching in the treeline along the back leat.


The north meadow, although stripped of it's wonderful wild flowers in late summer, is also superb for observing and photographing hawkers with plenty of low-level perching posts. I must emphasise the need for a stout pair of wellingtons at this location, unless you want to ruin a perfectly good pair of boots or risk losing them altogether in the deep mud scattered throughout the site.

On wet years such as 2012 the whole site can be impassable due to flooding. Be advised that for most of the year the site pays host to a small herd of grazing cattle which are kept in line by an electric fence along the length of the back leat. Catioun is therefore advised should you be afraid of large mammals or, more importantly, photographing dragonflies anywhere near that fence!


Finding this oasis can prove difficult for the new visitor as it's situated down the end of a permissive drive. The best clue I can give is approach from Hurn village slowly and, as you approach the end of the 30mph speed limit, you will see a couple of drives on the left-hand side. The second one is the one you need.

Be advised your entrance and exit will require careful driving observation.


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Key Species
Southern Hawker Brown Hawker Migrant Hawker Emperor Golden-ringed
Common Darter Broad-bodied Chaser Scarce Chaser Four-spotted Chaser Hairy Dragonfly
Beautiful Demoiselle Banded Demoiselle Common Blue Azure Large Red
Studland Heath Index

All Content   Paul Ritchie 2010