We have been visiting RSPB Arne in Dorset every year, for 5 years
The wildlife and habitat is so brilliant that it deserves its very own blog.
RSPB Arne is an absolute defo when we go to Dorset for our holidays. It is an unusual and special place, where you can enjoy open heathland and old oak woodland, whilst looking out over Poole Harbour.
There is lots of brilliant and special wildlife to see. In summer there are Dartford warblers nesting in the heather, but despite all my searching I’ve never seen one. Apparently there are as many as 22 species of colourful dragonflies – I saw quite a few, including the king of dragonflies, The Emperor and the Southern Hawker.
The reserve overlooks the harbour where you can watch thousands of wading birds, ducks and geese including spoonbills, egrets and cormorants. Ospreys were spotted the day before we went, as they prepare for their migration to Africa. Arne’s also a fabulous place to see reptiles; two years ago we saw sand lizards on the beach and a common lizard in the wildflower meadow.
We visited Arne twice; the second time we went up Coombs Heath checking out the ponds, trees, heath and looking at the ants nests. My main quest was in search of spoonbills. As I approached the viewpoint, I could see about 8 bird watchers and an RSPB officer with fancy telescopes set up looking out over the harbour. I ran up and asked what they could see; they told me there was 3 spoonbills out in the distance. ‘Boom’ with a bit of their help I could see them; all 3 were standing on one leg with their heads tucked in. Here’s a photo – not great, but you could clearly see their large elegant bodies, long necks and big beaks, which they use to swish about in the water in search of small invertebrates
They were a really friendly and knowledgeable group of people and it was great to talk with them about our shared love of birds. They advised me to go to the ‘screen’, where you can get a view at water level and spot curlews and other waders. As we looped back over the heath we saw loads of different butterflies and dozens of willow warblers.
Here’s the wildlife I saw:
Birds – great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, long tailed tit, oyster catchers, little egret, cormorant, spoonbill, curlew, willow warbler, buzzard and redstart
Mammals – rats, mouse, squirrel, vole
Insects – butterflies – red admiral, peacock, cabbage whites and small blue. Dragonflies, damselflies, darters and a beefly. Check out this spider wrapped up in its web – anyone know what it is???
One of the great things about Arne is the wildflower meadow, which attracts lots of insects, butterflies and grasshoppers, which ping and buzz about – I often try and catch them. It is a protected area with gates on it, as there’s a lot of sika deer at Arne, who would just love to munch on those lovely wild flowers.
In the visitor car park there is an Information Hut, with nest cameras, a ‘nature table’ (with skulls, feathers and antlers on) where you can find out more about the wildlife at Arne and information about the reserve. You can look out onto bird feeders, where some cheeky rats have made it their home, waiting for the bird seed to fall before they gobble it all up – yes that’s right, I even love rats!
RSPB staff and volunteers are always there to help you identify species and tell you about the most recent wildlife spottings. They are really helpful, full of knowledge and answer all my questions – and I have a lot of questions! Here I am with Luke the information officer there
The facilities are great too; there is a brand new shop and lovely café. I got some really good advice from the nice staff who work there, as I wanted some new binoculars. I gave my new binoculars a good try out on the reserve and they are superb!
Outside the shop is a kitchen garden, where they have created funky wildlife habitats. The veg they grow there is used in the café; that’s if they can harvest them before the cabbage whites munch them first! We had a delicious lunch there and the sun was scorchio, so we had to eat our food in the shade.
Arne is a really special place, I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re ever in the area go check it out!