Arne is not only a brilliant Dorset bird watching spot, it’s also one of the few remaining places where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found. Situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset Area of Natural Beauty, landscapes don’t get much more breathtaking than Arne. It’s a rich patchwork of habitats, home to a huge array of wildlife. Explore wide-open heathlands where reptiles roam, as well as ancient oak woodland humming with bird song, farm fields where Sika Deer stags rut and wetlands where Spoonbills wade. Still want more? How about discovering wading birds among the mudflats, watching Dartford Warblers darting about in the scrub, and spotting seals from the shoreline.
We carefully manage Arne's unique mix of habitats to create the ideal conditions for wildlife to thrive. As a threatened habitat in the UK, our lowland heath is of particular importance and many rare birds including Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Nightjars call it home. But it’s not just birds – Smooth Snakes, Heath Tiger Beetles, Ladybird Spiders and Yellow Centaury (a rare heathland plant) can also be found at Arne.
We use a range of techniques to keep the heathland open, as it has been for thousands of years. A key part of getting this right is grazing, so don’t be surprised if you bump into cattle, ponies or pigs during your visit. Poole Harbour is also of international significance thanks to the vast numbers of winter waders and wildfowl who visit and its resident population of Avocets – the second largest in the UK.
A ramble through heathland and woodland will take you to the sandy shores of Shipstal Beach – a quiet refuge away from the busier parts of Poole Harbour.