Bird Watching Areas in Dorset
Portland Bird Observatory
The Portland Bird Observatory sits in the old lower lighthouse and makes an ideal spot for observing the many species of birds that visit Portland. Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre is an independent organisation and a UK registered charity. The Observatory keeps a comprehensive list of all species spotted on Portland - a total of 355 species are listed, not bad for an area less than 5 miles by 1.5 miles in size! As well as being the centre for bird watching on Portland the observatory also branches out to cover insects, plants and mammals of which Portland has many rare and some unique species. The observatory includes a comprehensive bookshop and staff are incredibly knowledgable and always open to share their knowledge.^ Back to top
Radipole Lake nature reserve in central Weymouth sounds unlikely, but once you are on the footpath amongst the reeds and lagoons you could be far away in the countryside. There are well-known birds here such as house sparrows, finches and robins, alongside uncommon or rare birds like Cetti's, warblers and bitterns. The visitor centre looks out over open water, and firm paths suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs take you into the best areas to see bearded tits and summer-visiting reed, sedge and grasshopper warblers.
The visitor centre is open daily 9 am to 5 pm, 4 pm in winter; hide - 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Centre and hide closed Christmas and Boxing Day.^ Back to top
Lodmoor Bird Reserve
The large reedbed, open water, saltmarsh, wet grassland and bushes attract many different birds. Bearded tits and Cetti's warblers can be seen all year and autumn migration can be spectacular, with hundreds of swallows, martins and wagtails, as well as lots of wading birds. Lodmoor has one of the largest common tern colonies in the south-west, and the hide provides great views of their fascinating courtship and the chicks growing up through spring and summer.^ Back to top
The Fleet and Chesil Beach
The Chesil Beach and Fleet Reserve Centre is an excellent base and with Portland Harbour, the Fleet Lagoon and Chesil Bank with all their natural assets including saltmarsh, lagoon, scrub and grassland, seabirds and waders, cross channel migration makes for a wide variety of birds to spot within one easy location. Having said that it, Chesil Beach stretches along the coastline for 18 miles enclosing the Fleet Lagoon.
Access to some of the reserve is restricted during certain time of the year to protect the breeding of sensitive species. Information and permits area available from the Fleet Warden who is situated at the Centre. Guided walks can be arranged.^ Back to top
Mute swans have been nesting in this sheltered spot in the lea of the shingle beach of Chesil Bank for over 600 years. A sanctuary for the swans was established at least as early as 1393 by monks of the nearby Benedictine abbey. Nesting mute swans are usually intensely territorial, so it is unusual to see this many pairs in proximity to each other.
Apart from the swans, many species of waterfowl take advantage of the habitat. Over 300 different varieties have been recorded making the area great for general bird watchers as well as the swan fans.^ Back to top
This is an unusual and special landscape where you can enjoy a vast expanse of open heathland and old oak woodland. There is a variety of special wildlife to see. In summer look out for Dartford warblers nesting in the heather, nightjars flying at dusk and as many as 22 species of colourful dragonflies. The reserve overlooks Poole Harbour where you can watch thousands of wading birds, ducks and geese including avocets, black-tailed godwits and brent geese in winter. Ospreys are regularly seen on migration in late summer and in autumn.
A new visitor building is opening soon and RSPB staff organise a range of guided walks and events to help you see some of our most exciting species.^ Back to top
Brownsea Island, located in Poole harbour is owned and run by the National Trust since 1961. The island is a fantastic location for bird watching. It is a habitat of national and international importance for a variety of birds including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers.
Brownsea was home to BBC's Autumnwatch in 2008 and is home to a thriving population of the scarce and threatened red squirrel and offers winter shelter to a quarter of the UK's winter population of avocets; a black and white bird with a long, curved beak.
Brownsea Island offers a varied and beautiful landscape for enjoying the wonders of nature; from the patchworks of woodland, heath and grassy fields in the peaceful and secluded interior, to the cliffs and beaches of the coastline, which offer breathtaking views across the harbour to the Purbeck Hills.^ Back to top
To bring your group to the Heights Hotel so that you can explore the birds of Dorset, please call Jenny or Kathy to discuss your personal requirements on 01305 821361.
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