Dorset Discovery Spring Tour April 24th - 26th 2017

Dorset Discovery Spring Tour April 24th - 26th 2017

Spring migration in Dorset is a must see for any enthusiastic naturalist. Wheatear, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Nightingale, Yellow Wagtail, Ring Ouzel, Cuckoo and Hobby are all on their way back for the business of breeding and raising young. The heathlands, which are home to many resident Dartford Warbler become a hive of activity as Woodlark sing by moonlight, Green Tiger Beetles prowl on sandy paths and the first Sand Lizards come out to stretch their legs. This is also a great transition period as many of our over-wintering species can still be seen with Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Spoonbill, Marsh and Hen Harrier all being on our ‘hit list’ 

What makes ‘Dorset Discovery’ unique?


  • Gain access to some of the UK’s best wildlife spots and areas of RSPB reserves opened exclusively for our Dorset Discovery tour
  • You will be led by expert local guides from the RSPB and Birds of Poole Harbour charity, who also happen to be the very people responsible for managing, surveying and protecting these wonderful landscapes.
  • Learn about why and how we manage sites for wildlife too.
  • 100% of the profits go straight back in to local wildlife conservation, right back in to the places you’ve visited.


Why come in the spring?


  • Witness spring migration in all its glory as we head to one of the countries best known migration hotspots


  • Dorset is one of the few places where all six native reptiles occur. We’ll be trying to track down as many as we can including the exceptionally rare Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard


  • Be treated to one of natures greatest sounds; the song of the Nightingale along with other spring migrants such as Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap filling in the dawn chorus


  • Dorset heathland comes alive as Dartford Warbler, Raft Spiders, Green Tiger Beetles and Woodlark are all active amidst coconut scented gorse flowers. 


  • Hungry Hobby chasing dragonflies over heathland ponds


  • Recently established breeding Marsh Harriers majestically displaying and courting


  • Reedbeds alive with Bearded Tit, Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warbler all competing for territory.


Below is our tour itinerary. The itinerary is flexible based on what we have seen and members of the group wish to see, as well as taking into consideration weather and wildlife spectacles.

Day 1 

We'll be meeting at 12 midday at the stunning RSPB Arne reserve. We'll introduce you to your guides for the tour and head straight out onto the heathland, including exclusive access to areas of the reserve not usually open to the public. Arne is a truly fantastic, habitat rich reserve offering wildlife lovers an exciting and diverse experience. We’ll be listening for the melodic, cascading song of the Woodlark and the harsh scratchy Dartford Warbler as we search for Smooth Snake, Grass Snake, Adder, Common Lizard, Sand lizard and Slow Worm. Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Little Egret and Spoonbill are all possible along with passage waders such as Whimbrel and Grey Plover. Peregrine Falcon will be on the prowl for an easy meal as returning Swallows and House Martins pass overhead.


Day 2 

An early start as we head over to Portland Bill to hopefully witness spring migration at its very best. Sticking out seven miles into the English Channel, Portland Bill sees large numbers of returning summer migrants, from Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Whinchat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler to birds like Hobby, Ring Ouzel and Cuckoo. We won’t just be on the look out but also be treated to a ringing demonstration at the famous Portland Bird Observatory. As we leave Portland we’ll try our luck at Chesil Beach for spring passage waders like Little Ringed Plover and Whimbrel whilst searching out handsome male Wheatears. After Weymouth we'll return to Poole Harbour to check the Middlebere Channel for Spoonbills, waders and Barn Owl and watch out across the Hartland area for early returning Hobby too.

Day 3 

What better way to start the day than with a dawn chorus and the king songsters the Nightingale? A short drive from our accommodation partner takes us to the historical village of Corfe Castle, here we’ll be learning the songs and calls of returning migrants and breeding residents as males desperately try to impress the females. If conditions allow, we’ll be using a parabolic sound dish to help single out individual species such as Nightingale, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Blackcap and Linnet. Our final stop off will be Durlston CP 

Event Type 
Guided Walk
24 April, 2017 - 12:00
12pm, 24th April - 4pm 26th April
£350 per person (excludes accommodation)
Additional Information 

Tour Leaders – There will be a minimum of two tour leaders at any one time. We may also be joined by site-specific staff as and when necessary.

Paul Morton

Founder of the ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ charity and project manager for the publishing company ‘The Sound Approach’. Paul has been watching and monitoring Poole Harbours wildlife all his life and is the Poole Harbour Wetland Bird Survey Organiser and runs the hugely popular school bird boat scheme. Paul was also the Information Officer at Arne RSPB reserve for several years and he’ll be your guide around all Poole harbour parts of the tour.


Rob Farrington

The RSPB Dorset Visitor Manager, Rob works on all 9 of the RSPB reserves in Dorset. Rob has been looking at wildlife in the county all his life and first volunteered at the RSPB Arne reserve when he was 10.


Luke Phillips 

Luke is the information Officer at the RSPB Arne reserve but lives (and birds) over in Weymouth. His expertise and knowledge covers the Weymouth and Portland and he is also the youngest BTO ringing trainer in the country.



What is included?

Food included:  Lunch on day 1, day 2 and on day 3.

Transport is included on day 2 and 3. On day 1, participants are expected to make their own way to meet at the RSPB Arne reserve. This set up will not add to participants mileage and will enable us to spend more time out watching wildlife. At the end of day 1 participants will make their own way to their accommodation.

Expert guides are included. Our group will always have a minimum of two guides and as we visit different reserves site-specific staff may join us.


And what isn’t?

Accommodation is not included.


For our Dorset Discovery tours we use the Kingston Country Courtyard as our accommodation partner. Nestled on top of the Purbeck ridge with breathtaking views of Corfe Castle and Poole Harbour, the Kingston Country Courtyard hotel provides us easy access to all of our birding destinations whilst providing you with the comfort and warm welcome you’d expect.

Please note – As accommodation is not included within our price you are free to stay at any destination you wish.

However, Quote your ‘Dorset Discovery tour’ booking reference number when booking with our accommodation partner and receive a special deal at the 4 star hotel.

If you choose to stay at the Kingston Country courtyard then ALL bookings (including dinner options) must be done through them.

On the Monday and Tuesday evenings of the tour two of your guides will be having dinner at the Kingston Country Courtyard should you wish to join them.

All guest pick up and drop offs for the tour will be from the Kingston Country Courtyard Hotel.


Optics and Clothing

Optics are an important part of the trip so please bring Binoculars with you and scopes if you have one. The guides will have telescopes that you will be able to use, but the more scopes the better! Suitable wet weather gear should be brought just in case along with sturdy footwear.


How to Book

This is an exclusive trip with only 14 places available, so please book early to avoid disappointment. To book please ring the RSPB’s South West Regional Office in Exeter on 01392 432691 and ask to book on to the RSPB and ‘Birds Of Poole Harbour’ spring Tour. Bookings will start on Monday 1st May 2016. If you wish to be put on the reserve list prior to that date, please contact Rob Farrington on 07725574793

By booking you are agreeing to our terms and conditions.


You will be sent directions to RSPB Arne, booking confirmation and details of our accommodation partner.


Paul Morton –

Rob Farrington –

Web Design by Beetleweb