Downland rich in wildlife

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The Independent Online
Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire supports the largest known expanse of unimproved chalk downland in north-west Europe and represents 41 per cent of Britain's remaining area of this rich wildlife habitat.

The plain's grassland plants include red fescue, crested hair-grass, lady's bedstraw, rough hawkbit, squinancywort, wild thyme and false oatgrass; there are also scarce plants such as bastard toadflax, burnt orchid and slender bedstraw.

Butterflies include the rare adonis blue, Duke of Burgundy and brown hairstreak, while moths include the scarce forester, six-belted clearwing, pimpernel pug and orange-tailed clearwing. Bees include the endangered mining bee, cuckoo bee and tawny bumble, and rare invertebrates include the fairy shrimp and soldier beetle.

The plain is an internationally important breeding site for rare birds, including the stone curlew (up to 20 pairs), buzzard, long-eared owl, nightingale and Montagu's harrier.

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