In wildlife

As the second largest natural harbour in the world (Sydney is the largest), Poole has long been known as a haven for wildlife lovers and on the shores of Poole Harbour is RSPB Arne, one of the UK’s largest stretches of natural heathland.  

There is no doubt that what once started as a passion project, ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ is now gathering a great deal of interest from birding enthusiasts and is putting Dorset firmly on the wildlife tourism map with visitors from near and far.

Birds of Poole Harbour was established in 2013. From the initial concept of a website designed to showcase different species, the project developed into a charity to engage with local schools to inspire a love of natural history. Education is the key element to a successful understanding of the conservation efforts that take place in the harbour.

Birds in Poole

Paul Morton, co-founder of Birds of Poole Harbour who has a long-term passion for nature, comments
Poole Harbour is vitally important for a whole range of birds throughout the year. To date 330 different species have been recorded and the harbour itself is made up of a patchwork of unique and rare habitats on which the birds are dependant.

One of the highlights of the birding calendar is when migrant Osprey pass through during the spring and autumn. They used to breed here 200 years ago, but sadly got wiped out and never recovered. The Birds of Poole Harbour Osprey translocation project aims to help restore a south coast breeding population, therefor enabling fragmented populations in Western Europe to connect and expand. To have these birds breeding, hunting and thriving in this area again over the coming years will be special for the whole community and a conservation focus that generations to come will be able to follow

Mark Constantine, founder of LUSH can be found aboard some of the cruises, giving commentary and engaging with bird watchers. Mark is intrinsically involved with Birds of Poole Harbour and helped to set it up after forming a friendship with Paul Morton over bird watching.

The Osprey Translocation Project started in Summer 2017, and involves Birds of Poole Harbour, the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Windows. The aim of the five-year project is re-establishing this once common bird to its former breeding grounds here on the south coast.

It started with eight Osprey raised and released into Poole Harbour; all the released Ospreys migrate straight to Africa after being released in Poole Harbour where they remain for 2 years, but its hoped that over the coming years the first pair will return and establish somewhere within the Poole Harbour/South Dorset area. Over the course of the five year project 60 chicks from Scotland will be translocated, with a total of 22 having been translocated in 2017 and 2018. 

Melanie from the Tourism team recently went on an Osprey cruise and as a ‘non-birdwatcher’ was completely engaged; “Even if you start as a person with a passive interest in birds, it’s difficult to go on a Birds of Poole Harbour Osprey cruise and not get caught up in the excitement! The passion for bird watching from fellow passengers on board is infectious and you find yourself so caught up that what starts off as a cruise from Poole Quay, ends up feeling like an expedition of discovery to the depths of the natural harbour”.

Osprey Chick - Credit Simon Kidner

Osprey Chick (image credit: Simon Kidner).

Birds of Poole Harbour run winter boat trips that focus on Poole Harbour’s important wader and wildfowl populations and some birds of prey too.

Winter Nature Boat Cruises:

Birds of Poole Harbour

Brownsea Island Ferries


Birds of Poole Harbour
Birds of Poole Harbour logo

Birds of Poole Harbour is a new one-stop-shop resource for visitors to find out more about the harbour and the spectacular wildlife it support. Birds of Poole Harbour also offer guided bird trips.



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