Dorset is famous for its wildlife and is one of the UK’s top birdwatching counties. You may spot rare birds throughout the year, but autumn is the season when we get a variety of rare species visiting us, such as Spoonbills, Black-tailed Godwits, Hen Harriers, Ospreys and so many more. Such rarities as Wallcreepers and the Red-flanked Bluetail have 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 so many birds find shelter, and some prepare for a challenging journey across the sea, so we thought we’d share with you some top tips and places for birdwatching in Dorset.
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. Bearded Tits, Cetti’s Warblers and Gulls are spotted here as well as lots of House Martins and Swallows. 24 Black-tailed Godwits are present now at RSPB Lodmoor.
Read our blog about our team member’s visit to the site – a morning with the RSPB at Radipole Lake
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 were first bred here.
Check out latest sightings on Poole Harbour
Isle of Portland
Portland is a magnet for many bird species during migration and is a well-known spot for enjoying the views of passing seabirds. A flock of Porchard was 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. It’s worth taking the challenging walk around the island as you may be rewarded with many bird sightings.
Christchurch Harbour Reserve is a noted migration hotspot with its 120-foot-high Hengistbury Head. Muddy creeks and marshes are perfect for migrating birds. The first hint of autumn 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
The Fleet Lagoon (Ferrybridge to Abbotsbury)
Chesil Beach encompasses Fleet Lagoon, 8 miles of paradise for birds. It attracts thousands of Geese, Wigeon, Coots, Canada Geese in autumn attracting 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
Durlston Country Park and NNR
Migrant birds can turn up along the coast or in the valleys heading inland. You can experience flocks of birds swirling just above your head. Dancing Ledge is well known for spotting Puffins and Kittiwakes. St Aldhelm’s Head with its amazing cliffs and Winspit Valley are good places to watch the passing seabirds.
Have you ever been carried away by a song of a bird?
Do you like to spend days outdoors and look for birds?
Are you curious to find out what shadows fly across the sky above you?
Do you enjoy watching birds flying in groups?
Maybe you have a habit of recording the birds you spot and dedicate your free days to birdwatching?
If you said yes to at least two of the above, come to Dorset and enjoy the birdwatching season at its peak by staying in one of our cottages.
Find your dream cottage on our website – search by your preferred area and enjoy birdwatching!
Email us your story