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bird watching in dorset

Bird watching in Dorset is an increasingly popular activity, thanks to the frequented visits of unusual species. Often referred to as one of the UK’s top bird-watching counties, discover when and where you can spot some of the most stunning and rare birds.


You may spot unusual birds throughout the year, however, autumn is the season when we get a variety of rare species visiting us such as Spoonbills, Black-tailed Godwits, Hen Harriers, Ospreys and many more. Such rarities as Wallcreepers and the Red-flanked Bluetail have also been spotted here in the late 90’s. Some birds including Swallows embark on epic journeys and migrate to South Africa for winter, travelling at least 6000 miles!

We are privileged to live in an area where many birds find shelter whilst others prepare for a challenging journey across the sea.  We’d love to share with you some top tips and places for bird watching in Dorset.

Where To Go Bird Watching In Dorset:

1. RSPB Lodmoor & Radipole Lake

Nestled in the heart of Weymouth, the reedbeds and wetland habitat of RSPB Radipole Lake are a tranquil wildlife haven in a bustling urban town. Watch Bearded Tits, Cetti’s Warblers and Gulls here as well as lots of House Martins and Swallows. 24 Black-tailed Godwits are present now at RSPB Lodmoor.


2. Poole Harbour

In winter, up to 20,000 birds arrive to take advantage of the harbour’s sheltered water and the abundance of food. Oystercatchers, Curlews, Redshanks and other species thrive in this area.

RSPB Arne is a mix of forest and heathland and is well-known for spotting Spoonbills and Avocets as well as Ospreys.

The biggest island in Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island, is a home for Terns, Waders and Gulls. Little Egrets, once a rare visitor to our shores, were first bred here in 1996 and are now a common sight around our coasts.

Check out latest sightings on Poole Harbour


3. Isle of Portland

Portland is a magnet for many bird species during migration which makes it a great location for bird watching in Dorset. It is a well-known spot for enjoying the views of passing seabirds and a flock of Porchard can be spotted flying East.

A visit to The Portland Bird Observatory near Portland Bill is a must! Check out their news on their website

The South West Coast path goes all around the Isle of Portland and is certainly worth the challenging walk as you may be rewarded with many bird sightings.


4. Christchurch Harbour

Another one of the best bird watching sites in Dorset is Christchurch Harbour Reserve. This location is a noted migration hotspot with its 120-foot-high Hengistbury Head complete with muddy creeks and marshes. Swallow movement was recorded on the last day of this summer and migrant numbers are increasing each day.

Check out all sightings at Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group’s website


5. The Fleet Lagoon (Ferrybridge to Abbotsbury)

Chesil Beach encompasses Fleet Lagoon, 8 miles of paradise for birds. It attracts thousands of Geese, Canada Geese, Wigeon and Coots in autumn and, as a result, invites photographers from all around UK and abroad. Follow the South West Coast path from Ferrybridge to Abbotsbury which has some wonderful spots for birdwatching, as migrants can turn up pretty much anywhere along the path. East Fleet and Langton Herring are worth a visit too.

Abbotsbury Swannery deserves a visit as it’s home to more than 600 mute swans and the experience is just priceless.

Check out bird species on the Chesil Beach Reserve and Lagoon via their website


6. Durlston Country Park and NNR

Covering over 260 acres of land and consisting of sea-cliffs, migrant birds show up along the coast or in the valleys heading inland. You can experience flocks of birds swirling just above your head. Dancing Ledge is a well-known spot for Puffins and Kittiwakes.

Have you ever been carried away by a song of a bird? Do you like to spend days outdoors and look for birds? Then Dorset is the perfect location for you.


Image Credits: Paul BuckinghamCC BY-SA 2.0