Dorset Discovery Summer Tour June 25th - 27th 2018

The spectacular heathlands deserve a special focus on our summer tour as we try to track down all six native species of reptile including the exceptionally rare Smooth Snake. Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Hobby and Cuckoo should all be accompanying us on our walks along with other heathland specialists like Silver-studded Blue Butterfly, Green Tiger Beetle, huge Raft Spiders and the carnivorous Sundew! The grand finale on the second day will be a sunset walk to listen to and look for the mystical Nightjar, with Poole Harbour being one of the best places in the country to experience this. The towering cliffs of our coastline are home to an important south coast breeding population of Guillemot and Razorbill as well as Fulmar, Kittiwake and plenty of Shag. Other important breeding colonies include large Sandwich and Common Tern colonies on Brownsea Island along with a small and well-protected Little Tern colony at Chesil, both of which we’ll be visiting on this jam-packed wildlife tour!

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 Birds of Poole Harbour charity and the RSPB 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 summer?

  • A chance to see of all of the UK’s 6 native reptiles and learn about the habitats they depend on
  • Noisy and spectacular close up views of several tern colonies including Common, Sandwich and Little Tern
  • Be taken on a mysterious and magical night time adventure to see and listen to Arne’s well established Nightjar population
  • Experience Dorset heathland at its very best with Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, carnivorous Sundew plants, Raft Spiders, Silver-studded Blue and Grayling Butterflies and the exceptionally rare Dorset Heath heather.
  • A visit to National Trust’s Brownsea Island the home of some of the last remaining English Red squirrels


 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

The RSPB have owned and managed their Arne reserve for 50 years. The lowland heathlands in north-west Europe are internationally rarer than tropical rainforest and at RSPB Arne you can find some of the most pristine examples of this immensely bio-diverse habitat. We’ll be trying to track down all six of the UK’s native reptiles, discovering heathland ponds busy with dragonflies and raft spiders. Rare butterflies flutter over the heathland and as Woodlark and Dartford Warbler try to control their newly fledged young. You’ll experience private parts of the reserve not open to the public with views never to forget. The estuarine systems could hold over-summering waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew and we’ve even had several Spoonbill too in recent summers.

Day 2 

Day two begins at the vast Chesil Beach with exclusive access to the RSPB and local partners Little Tern Project. Little Tern are one of our most noisy seabird species and we’ll meet up with the project staff who will take us behind the scenes and share their secrets on how they brought this small and important colony back from the brink. A late morning visit to RSPB Radipole Lake (aka Weymouth Wetlands) for lunch will provide a sneaky look into the lives of some of our favourite reedbed species such as Reed and Sedge Warbler, breeding Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tits. A late afternoon break at the hotel and an early dinner will then allow us to head out at dusk in search of the mysterious Nightjar. The calls of this beautiful bird, echoing out across a warm summers night is an experience you just have try. With their bouncy, butterfly flight silhouetted against the fading light it will be the perfect end to the day.

Day 3

We’ll begin our day by heading over to the coastal cliffs of Durlston Country Park near Swanage, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A noisy seabird colony can be found here in early summer, and species including Razorbill, Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Shag and the resident hunting Peregrines should hopefully still be hanging around. Durlston is famous for its butterflies and wildflowers and we’ll be learning about these beautiful fauna and flora here too. Then for the final part of our tour we head to the famous Brownsea Island, home of the Red squirrel and Poole Harbours large and important Tern Colonies. We’ll visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s saline lagoon which will offer us close up views of breeding Sandwich and Common Terns along with the chance of seeing a mix of wader species too. 

Event Type 
Guided Walk
25 June, 2018 - 12:00
12pm June 25th - 4pm June 27th 2018
£375 per person (excludes accomodation)
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 Harbour's wildlife all his life and is the Poole Harbour Wetland Bird Survey Organiser , runs the hugely popular school bird boat scheme and project led the recent Poole Harbour Osprey translocation project. Paul was also the Information Officer at Arne RSPB reserve for several years and he’ll be your lead guide for the tour.

Rob Farrington

Rob is the RSPB Dorset Visitor on Reserves Manager and works on all 9 of the RSPB reserves in Dorset. Rob has a huge passion and knowledge base for all of the reserves wildlife 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, guests 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 guests 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.

If you choose not to stay at the Kingston Country Courtyard but would like to join the group for dinner you're more than welcome. Dinner bookings and choices can be made directly through the hotel. 

All guest pick up and drop offs for the duration of the tour will be from the Kingston Country Courtyard Hotel at the specified times on the finalised itinerary. 


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 8 places available, so please book early to avoid disappointment. To book please ring RSPB Arne on 01929 551693 and ask to book on to the RSPB and ‘Birds Of Poole Harbour’ summer Tour. Bookings are being taken now. 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