The largest in Europe, Poole’s spectacular natural harbour and heathland are home year round to an ever changing ensemble of wild birds making it one of the best spots in the UK to see them.  Up to 40,000 winter waders and the UK’s largest wintering Avocet flock in the UK take advantage of the harbour’s unique environment each winter, from November to February.

Winter is the perfect time to wrap up warm and take a trip with Poole’s Bird Boats to see birdlife at its best on specially tailored trips with experts from the RSPB to guide you.

Watch a cast of thousands strike a pose and make the most of the Avocets, Oystercatchers, Great Crested Grebes, Shelducks and many other species that live in and around Poole Harbour.

Choose from a guided harbour cruise or the chance to land on Brownsea Island out of season for an exclusive tour of Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserve link will open in new window with unique access to the thousands of birds that flock to the island’s lagoons and reedbeds.  The island played host to BBC AutumnWatch in 2008 and was described by Bill Oddie as “the best place for seeing wildlife in Dorset”.  Booking is essential through the National Trust Brownsea Island Tel: 01202 707744.


You don’t have to get on the water to see the wildlife at its best, armed with a pair of binoculars, Holes Bay, Shore Road and Harbourside Park in Poole are good sites to see wild birds from October-February. And in January and February, spectacular views of starlings flocking over Sterte Esplanade and Studland provide one of the most stunning dusk displays in nature.  Picture by Donna Challinor.

Set in more than 100 acres of woodland and parkland on the northernmost reaches of Poole Harbour, Upton Country Park offers great opportunities to see a variety of wildlife throughout the year from animals and birds to water creatures and amphibians.  From the shoreline enjoy views towards Poole town across the harbour, the mudflats and marshes of which are a protected site of international importance for wildlife conservation.  Autumn and winter migrants provide an excellent opportunity to train your wildlife spotting skills and see some of the more unusual species like the Redwing and Fieldfare feasting on the park’s plentiful berries and fruit.  For more details of guided walks visit link will open in new window.

The RSPB Arne link will open in new window nature reserve on the shores of Poole Harbour played host to BBC Autumnwatch in 2016 and Winterwatch link will open in new window in 2017.  The rare heathland habitat is home to 6 of the UK’s rarest species and provides opportunities to see wildlife all year round.  Whether a novice or expert, make the most of the experience with RSPB guided walks visiting different locations.

Keep an eye on the wildlife with the live Brownsea Lagoon webcam which captures all the action from the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s reserve on Brownsea Island at link will open in new window all year round.  The lagoon is a perfect habitat for thousands of Avocet and up to 30 Spoonbill in the autumn and has hosted some special birds in the past such as Common Crane, Caspian Tern and Western Sandpiper.

Red Squirrel Homepage

For red squirrel hunters, Autumn & sunny winter days can provide are the perfect time of year to see the rare native Red Squirrels and Sika Deer.

Boats cross to the National Trust’s Brownsea Island operate for special weekend openings from 4 February – 12 March. 2017.  Boats leave every hour from Poole Quay and Sandbanks (shop, café and visitor centre will all be open).

The island is open daily from 18 March – 29 October 2017, with ferries operating from Poole Quay and Sandbanks.  Tel: 01202 707744 or more information.  Ferry and landing charges apply.

If walking is your passion, stroll along Sandbanks, Britain’s best beach and winner of more Blue Flags than any other UK Beach or take one of the regular free guided walks and explore internationally important, protected heathland at Canford Heath with the experts on regular  Health and Nature Walks link will open in new window.  Usually between 2-3 miles in length, the walks are a chance find out more about the site’s history, conservation and wildlife.  The heathland habitat is home to the rare Dartford Warbler in spring and summer and many other species year round.


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