To most birders Dorset is virtually synonymous with Portland Bill and its observatory famed for finding rarities at almost any time of year. Indeed the county's position, partly sticking out into the channel and subject to a milder climate than almost any other part of the country, does mean it is well positioned to attract overshooting migrants and wandering colonisers. It is no surprise that the first breeding little egrets in the UK chose Dorset to begin their invasion. Little egrets have been in evidence in all months around Poole harbour for many years.
However, this is not all there is to this county. The Weymouth reserves, almost unique in their urban locales are worth a visit any time of day and any day of the year too, as are Dorset`s lowland heaths (the most threatened habitat in the UK, much already eaten up by the most rapidly expanding urban area in the country - Bournemouth); as well as plantations, army training grounds, hidden chines and wetlands.
Dorset seems to straddle the west and east, with buzzards and redstarts, honey buzzards and bearded tits. There are some great places to bird and the ones below are just a selection, you should explore Dorset for yourself.
Portland and Weymouth
National favourite, worthwhile at any time of year. Area can easily be covered in a day.
With bearded tits, vagrant waders and gulls and Cetti's warblers etc.. The latest bird information is available from Portland Bird Observatory or Radipole RSPB shop.
Excellent variety of habitats in small area. May not look much on the map but outstanding record of quality rarities speaks for itself. Best during migration. Much disturbance in mid-summer. Early morning on Hengistbury Head with remainder of day around Wick Hams, Stanpit Marsh and Priory Pools. Notice-board at Stanpit with recent information.
Huge area with lots of possibilities. Most popular sites are Studland (winter); Arne (all year); Brownsea Island (access from Easter until October); Holes Bay (a must during a freeze); Wareham area (Autumn through Spring). Most of these will give a days birding on their own but it is usual to combine 2 or 3. A day list of over 100 is a reasonable prospect in spring or autumn. Information available from County Recorder.
Purbeck Heritage Coast
Primarily during migration. An excellent rarity pedigree. Main sites are Durlston Head, Winspit and St Aldhelm's Head and most recently Osmington Mills. Though any of the coast from Swanage to Weymouth can be rewarding. Most sites can be covered in under half a day. Primarily searching for migrant passerines which can be present in large numbers (esp in autumn). Sea watching also available though not so reliable as at Portland. Durlston Country Park centre has nature diary with recent sightings.
Abbotsbury and the Fleet
Good recent record with rare birds of all kinds. Good public access along paths on north shore. Abbotsbury can be viewed distantly from public roads, a full visit is better but fee payable at the Swannery. Worthwhile at any time though August to May best.
Radipole RSPB Reserve
With bearded tits, vagrant waders and gulls and Cetti's warblers etc. The latest information on sightings can be had from Radipole RSPB shop.
Often missed by birders speeding down to Arne this delightful old heath, with some heathland reclamation projects being carried out on it, is a great place for the typical species of lowland heath; Dartford warblers, nightjars, and hobby making any summer evening magical.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 420
County Bird - Hoopoe Upupa epops
Where to Watch birds in Dorset, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight
By Dr G. Green and M. Cade (Helm) 2010 4th Edition
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 9780713688139Buy this book from NHBS.com
Coastal Birds of East Dorset
S.J. Aspinall, M.L. Tasker Paperback - 48 pages (1990) Joint Nature Conservation Committee
ISBN: 0861396847Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of Dorset
by George Green Published by Christopher Helm 2004 ?40
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0713669349Buy this book from NHBS.com
Coastal Birds and Marine Mammals of Mid Dorset
Richard White and Andrew Webb 48 pages, b/w photos, line illus, tabs, figs. Joint Nature Conservation Committee Distributed by NHBS 1995
ISBN: 1873701969Buy this book from NHBS.com
Rare Birds in Dorset
Edited by Stephen Morrison 192 pages, 55 distribution maps, 157 graphs. 1998
ISBN: 0953007804Buy this book from NHBS.com
Bird Song from a Dorset Wood and Heathland Garden CD
John Hammick - Mandarin Productions 2004
ISBN: 151160Buy this book from NHBS.com
Best Birdwatching Sites Dorset
By Neil Gartshore - Buckingham Press 2011 - 248 pages, 65 sites.
ISBN: 9780956987600Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Locally based international tour operator - Birdfinders, Westbank, Cheselbourne, Dorset, DT2 7NW, United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0)1258 839066 Fax: +44 (0)1258 837449 Mobile: 07050 602473
On Swallow Birding trips we are enthusiastic, relaxed, friendly and fun. Small groups mean Leader Steve Grimwade can give the time and attention necessary to make your trip a great birding experience!
Two Owls Birding
…we offer guided birdwatching half-day, full-day trips and courses in the Dorset, New Forest and West Hampshire area plus birding weekends in the UK…
Dorset Birding and Wildlife Experience
This site outlines what the Dorset Birding and Wildlife Experience has to offer. We will take a flexible approach to your enquiry, so if you don't see exactly what you are looking for please contact us to discuss your requirements…
Poole Harbour Birdboats
Apart from being an idyllic, tranquil and scenic oasis during the winter, Poole Harbour is also a haven for important over wintering wildlife and boasts internationally significant numbers of wading birds and waterfowl. The harbour not only hosts one of the largest wintering flocks of Avocet in the country but can also provide views of up 20 Spoonbill lazily flying over the Brownsea Lagoon, Common Seals popping up next to the boat to say hello or even a spectacular display from a Peregrine Falcon!
Birdwatching South Dorset and Beyond
Bespoke day tours, guided walks and courses with Joe Stockwell.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2010 [06 June] - David & Amanda Mason
…As we had not seen Dartford Warbler in this country since 1994 and had never previously seen Cirl Bunting in the UK, we decided to spend a few days in Dorset and Devon with two specific birding targets in mind…
2011 [05 May] - Tony Jones - Brownsea Island
I know Red Squirrels can't fly, so I suppose that officially they aren't birds, but seeing one in England would be a 'tick' for both Penny & me, so during our holiday in Dorset we planned a visit to Brownsea Island, nestling snugly in Poole Harbour. I thought there must also be a fair chance of some birds, as I remember Bill Oddie including it in one of his birding programmes…
Places to Stay
…empowering and resourcing people, particularly carers and those with disabilities, through creativity, environmental awareness, personal and spiritual growth.
Knoll House, The (Studland)
To the north and west are nature trails and bird-watching reserves. Projecting out into the Channel, as we do, is a guarantee of better weather than on the mainland. We have our own micro-climate in Studland. The grounds extend to about 100 acres and include eight acres of Spring gardens at Studland Bay House which contain some rare and interesting species.
Sea Barn Farm Camping Park - Weymouth
The Park is part of a family farm bordering the fleet nature reserve…
Dorset Accommodation for birdwatchers
Top Parts B&B
Top Parts is set on high ground at the head of the Bride Valley just two miles from the village of Abbotsbury and the World Heritage Coast at Chesil Bank…
A Great Escape Guest House
A Great Escape offers a high level of accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, flat screen televisions with FreeView, fridges, safes, hairdryers, and refreshment making facilities. We also include a full English breakfast using locally sourced produce…
Dorset Bird Club
Contact: Membership Secretary Diana Dyer, The Cedars, 3 Osmay Road, Swanage, Dorset: firstname.lastname@example.org By phone on 01929 421402 or email Chairman - Neil Gartshore email@example.com - The Dorset Bird Club is a membership based club financed, and run, by its membership. Please look around the site - if you are not a member, and are interested in Dorset's birds, then why not consider joining….
Dorset Wildlife Trust
The Trust's main activity is to acquire and manage nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife of Dorset. We have 40 established reserves, ranging from a tiny island in the river Stour to our most recent acquisition, Upton Heath…
Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group
CHOG watches and records the birds of Christchurch Harbour, which is situated on the south coast of England and includes the well known birdwatching areas of Hengistbury Head and Stanpit Marsh. Despite covering an area of only 9 square kilometers, over 300 species of bird have occurred in the harbour.
This reserve is open to disabled users and has specially designed facilities - as far as we know it is the only such facility in the UK
Bournemouth Natural Science Society
Ornithology - This Section promotes the Objects of the Society through lectures and field meetings, and the availability for study of Museum specimens and Ornithological books and magazines….
Dorset Environmental Records Centre
Dorset Environmental Records Centre was established in 1976 as an independent organisation to collate information on all of Dorset's wildlife. It provides an opportunity for local naturalists and conservation organisations to work together….
RSPB New Forest Local Group
We are an active local RSPB group covering the whole of the New Forest and neighbouring areas in Hampshire & Dorset. We have an extensive programme of walks throughout the year, plus monthly meetings ( 2nd Wednesday each month) in Lyndhurst Village Hall. Members and non-members welcome…
Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre
Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre, situated at the Old Lower Light, Portland Bill, in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England, was established in 1961 to provide a focal point and accommodation for naturalists, particularly birdwatchers, visiting Portland. The origins of the Observatory date from the pioneering work by Dr Ken Rooke and friends who began studying bird migration at the Bill in 1951.
Warden: Martin Cade, Old Lower Light, Portland, Dorset DT5 2JT 01305 820533 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorset County Museum
The focus of this collection is plants and animals from within the boundaries of Dorset, including insects, birds, molluscs, marine invertebrates and plants, and much more. Included are a collection of 5,000 native herbs, as well as bird specimens collected by local resident Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, on his travels around the world…
This nature reserve of international importance supports a wealth of wildlife. Sedge and reed warblers, heron, great crested grebe and diving and dabbling ducks frequent this wetland habitat. Because of the proximity to the sea Abbotsbury also has little and common terns, shelduck, cormorant, and ringed plover. There is also the chance to see more unusual species.
The lagoon was reclaimed from the harbour in the 1850s to create farmland, but neglect of the sea wall and wind pumps led to its becoming a non-tidal wetland, which attracts a variety of birds whose legs and beaks fit them for feeding in brackish water and on mudflats. It is a habitat of national importance, providing a vital refuge for waders, especially when the tide is high and the mud flats around Poole harbour are covered.
RSPB Reserve - Radipole Lake
Radipole Lake, an R.S.P.B. reserve of national repute, is found in the centre of the seaside town of Weymouth. Its location lends itself to easy access by either public transport or private car. It is within 5 minutes walk of the Weymouth railway station.
RSPB Reserve - Lodmoor
This reserve has a grazing marsh with ditches, shallow pools, reedbed and bushes. You can see bearded tits and Cetti's warblers all year and there is one of the largest breeding colonies of common terns in the south-west…
RSPB Reserve - Arne
Arne is the place to see heathland wildlife including Dartford warblers and nightjars. All six species of reptiles found in the UK live here: adders, grass snakes, smooth snakes, sand lizards, common lizards and slow worms. There are also 22 species of dragonflies…
RSPB Reserve - Garston Wood
This ancient coppiced wood is especially worth visiting in spring, when there is a breathtaking carpet of bluebells, wood anemones and primroses. You can see many woodland birds, including turtle doves…
Durlston Country Park & National Nature Reserve
Durlston Country Park and National Nature Reserve, situated 1 mile from Swanage in Dorset, is a fabulous 280 acre countryside paradise, consisting of sea-cliffs, coastal limestone downland, haymeadows, hedgerows and woodland. With stunning views, walking trails, the historic Great Globe, superb geology and fascinating wildlife there is always something different to see…
Joe Cockram - Joe's Birding Blog
Somerset Blogger’s tales of twitching, photo-jaunts in Somerset, and overseas…
Birding the Nothe
Join me in my birding on The Nothe, a small town park in Weymouth, Dorset, Southern England. In itself, the park is unremarkable, with the usual collection of lawns, shrubberies and car park. But its location, on a peninsula of land jutting out into sheltered Weymouth Bay, makes it a great place for birding, with a remarkable variety of species noted here and in the surrounding waters. I’ve been counting birds here since 1981, and there are other records going back to the fifties. At present in this site you can.
Information on a number of Dprset reserves including Arne.
The Rambling Birder
Homnepage of a Dorset birder - Ken Tucker, with photos, trip reports etc…
UNESCO awarded Natural World Heritage Status to the coast of Dorset & East Devon in December 2001 in recognition of its unique pedigree which spans 185 million years. Please use this website to explore what the 95-mile coast and its countryside offer you as a visitor…
Nature Diversity from Dorset, the New Forest and UK Landscape
Locations are Dorset, The New Forest, Hampshire and around the United Kingdom. The nature albums have images of UK wildlife including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, plants, fungi and lichens.
Dominic Couzens - Bird Words
Hello, my name is Dominic Couzens and I am a writer, with nearly 30 book titles to my name. I have also been a regular birdwatching field trip leader since 1988 and organise and lead birding trips in the UK. I love meeting people and sharing with them the things that excite me about nature, especially my main area of expertise, which is bird behaviour. I believe passionately in communicating greater understanding about the natural world and am fortunate that the opportunities offered to me through my Books, Magazine Articles and occasional Television work enables me to share an understanding of birds and other wildlife.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Bob Ford
There are some very nice landscapes and a portfolio of birds.
Photographer - Guy Edwardes
Some really first class images from this Dorset-based photographer…
Photographer - David Boag - Natural Focus
The first acceptable photograph David took was of a Kingfisher in the early-70`s and this led him into a seven year photographic study of the species. David Boag has a very professional website and he certainly takes some stunning photographs.
Photographer - Mike Mockler
Mike Mockler is an award-winning wildlife photographer with many published photographs to his name. His photographs have been used in countless books and magazines around the world, including the front covers. He is a past winner of the “Dusk to Dawn” category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the world’s largest and most prestigious photography competition. He has also won several highly commended awards in that competition…
Photographer - Steve Carey Bird Photography
I've Been Birdwatching Since 2005, My local patch for Birdwatching is Lodmoor Nature Reserve RSPB and Radipole Lake Nature Reserve RSPB in Dorset. I also Birdwatch the Cambridgeshire,Norfolk and Sufolk Area as my Brother lives up that way. I also have day trips out to other Birding Sites…