A meteor shower is believed to have sparked a spate of calls to coastguards on Friday night from people who thought they were seeing flares or UFOs.

A Portland coastguard spokesman said there had been reports of green flare sightings up and down the coast, from Brixham to Southampton, at around 10pm.

"We were right in the middle of meteorite activity so no action was taken."

A Christchurch man told the Daily Echo: "We saw the lights around 11.30pm. They definitely weren't Chinese lanterns, when we were out in the garden.

"It was really strange."