The money we raise through our events and generous donations contribute towards funding our important conservation and education work around the harbour. Our main aims as a charity are to help protect, enhance and interpret the harbour’s rich and varied birdlife, so that the public can develop their understanding of the local area. Discover more about our past and on-going projects here:

Poole Harbour Osprey Reintroduction Project

In 2017, Birds of Poole Harbour partnered with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to start a Osprey Translocation Project within Poole Harbour in an effort to re-establish a south coast breeding population of Osprey having been absent for nearly 200 years. This will be an exciting project for Dorset and will hopefully see the local community get behind seeing these birds back in our landscape as a breeding species. This follows the success of a similar project at Rutland Water, which established a population in the Midlands, as well has forming the foundations of the Welsh population. Discover recent updates and more about this project, as well as how you can help on our Osprey Project Page.

Swift City Project

Swifts are summer visitors to the UK, arriving in the latter part of April and returning to nest in crevices in the eaves of old buildings. Unfortunately, the UK population has faced a decline of more than 50% in only a 20-year period. Primary causes of this decline are a reduction in food supply (insects) and a decrease in suitable nesting sites. Modern buildings are designed differently, meaning that swifts cannot use them to nest.
In order to combat this decline, Birds of Poole Harbour partnered with Saltwater Stone for a “Swift City” project in 2019, installing nest boxes around Old Town Poole and other productive Swift sites around Poole. It’s hoped that by building additional nesting sites and offering nest boxes to areas with known populations of swifts, that they will be able to build in numbers and help support the UK population.

Creation of Holton Pools

In 2017, Birds of Poole Harbour partnered with Livability Holton Lee to create the Holton Pools hide and scrapes. An area of non-productive grassy saltmarsh was transformed into a thriving set of tidal pools which began to attract birds of a whole range of species. Part of the project also saw the old defunct ‘Woodland Hide’ refurbished and moved forward 50 yards allowing for great views over the pools and reedbeds which attract waders such as Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. It’s also one of the best places to watch Marsh Harrier during the winter and Osprey in the autumn.

Opening of RSPB Lytchett Fields

Prior to 2013 Lytchett Fields was a private set of semi dry/wet fields that were being managed for breeding Redshank and Lapwing by the RSPB but, sadly it was never really adopted by either species. Then in early 2013, completely by chance a hole appeared in the tidal sea wall along the southern edge of the fields and the fields began to flood on a daily basis with the rising and the falling of the tides. As the fields became wetter Birds of Poole Harbour, Shaun Robson and Ian Ballam began surveying daily as the fields began attracting more and more birds with flocks of Black-tailed Godwit beginning to take up residence and passage Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Little Stint becoming more and more frequent. The site even started to attract rarities such as Black-winged Stilt, Pectoral Sandpiper and Cattle Egret but the issue was the site was still private and had no access. So, after a year of surveying, Birds of Poole Harbour linked up with the RSPB Dorset Team to see if we could arrange access and install paths and bridges which they and the landowner kindly agreed to back in early 2015. Since then the site has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most visited birding sites in the whole of Poole Harbour.

Lytchett Bay Viewing Mound Partnership Project

Never wanting to miss out on a birding opportunity we learnt that in 2016 Lytchett Minster and Upton Town Council and Borough of Poole were proposing to improve the viewing area at Lytchett Bay View, along Boarder Road in Upton. This would improve the views out across the eastern end of Lytchett Bay and provide the opportunity to ‘bird’ a difficult area of the bay. After several discussions we were kindly invited to be part of the project and donated towards the development of the new viewing mound which now stands proudly above the reed beds offering views of Wigeon, Teal and Black-tailed Godwit during the winter, Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Sandwich Tern in the summer and Osprey, Bearded Tit and Reed Bunting in the autumn.

Nest & Bird Box Installations

Despite abundant habitat for Barn Owls and Little Owls in the harbour area, their populations are limited to small numbers. Through installing Barn Owl nesting boxes at Ridge, Swineham and Greenlands Farm, Studland between 2015 and 2016, as well as a Little Owl nest box at Holton Lee in 2018, we have helped to provide suitable nesting sites to support their populations. All of the Barn Owl nest boxes are now in use, proving the success of this simple project. In addition, we worked with local businesses, Wildlife Windows and the Men’s Shed charity to build and install Kestrel nest boxes, with permission from local landowners including the Dorset Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, RSPB and Livability Holton Lee. The Eurasian Kestrel is on the Amber list for the UK Birds of Conservation Concern due to an estimated 46% population decline in the UK, contributing to the significant global decline. In the spring of 2018 we installed 15 new Kestrel boxes around Poole Harbour which we hope will help reduce the decline in their local population.


Sunnyside Scrape Restoration

Sunnyside is a small wetland site that is owned and managed by Natural England. Over the last 10 years, the site unfortunately became overgrown, and so Birds of Poole Harbour funded the restoration of the scrape and new habitat creation at Sunnyside in 2017. This habitat plays host to passage waders, such as Wood, Common and Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover and passage migrants, such as Wheatear, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail. In winter, the scrape acts as an important feeding site for Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Woodcock and Lapwing, which can be seen during our Winter Bird Ringing Demos. In late summer 2019 we carried out an extra piece of work which saw us taking off more material which allowed more water to flow over the site, therefore making it more attractive to birds.

Ringing Study at Ballard Down

During 2017 and 2018, Birds of Poole Harbour carried out a detailed ringing study at a busy migration spot within Poole Harbour. In partnership with the National Trust, we employed a full-time ringer to focus on a private site at Ballard Down, ringing migrating birds in both spring and autumn. The site proved to be an exceptionally important site for migrating birds with a total of 4840 birds ringed in just 4 months during autumn 2017 and 3612 birds ringed in 2018. It proved that the Ballard ridge and surrounding scrub plays host to a stunning range of species including large numbers of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Swallow, Sedge Warbler and Goldfinch, as well as higher than expected numbers of species such as Lesser Redpoll, Grasshopper Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Firecrest.

Ballard Down – Report 2017_

Ballard Down – Report 2018


Moths of Poole Harbour Study

The Moths of Poole Harbour project was established in 2017 in aid of developing an understanding of moth populations in the area, whilst supporting other NGOs on specific moth studies. Moths are a good environmental indicator of highlighting how healthy an ecosystem is, so gaining an understanding of how our invertebrate populations are doing provides an important insight to how our bird populations may or may not fare.
Over 600 species have been identified in the harbour through this project to date, with recording taking place at locations including Arne Moors, Slepe Heath, Canford Heath, Ballard Down and Holton Lee.
Please read our annual survey reports from previous years for more information:

Moths of Poole Harbour Study – 2017
Moths of Poole Harbour 2018 report

Moths of Poole Harbour Study 2019

Ballad Down report 2018 – 2019

Holton Lee Report 2017 – 2019

Annual Census of Poole Harbours Important 'Gull Islands'

The ‘Gull Islands’ off the Holton shoreline in the west of the harbour is the main breeding site for Poole Harbour and Dorset’s nesting Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull. With the islands shrinking in size year on year due to erosion we head out out each spring to census the population and monitor any declines or issues the colony faces. Over the last five years we’ve seen a fluctuating population of Black-headed Gulls ranging between 3000-6000 nests. In the spring of 2018 we recorded ours (and Dorset’s) largest ever total of nesting Mediterranean Gulls with 155 nests. In the spring of 2016, we sadly discovered that egg collectors were illegally harvesting the eggs which were then ending up in legitimate supply chains. However, after compiling a media response to our gruesome discovery, which was then picked up by many news tabloids (both print and digital) we managed to get the issue stopped right away with the population recovering after a single year.

Tern Rafts at Little Sea, Studland

Poole Harbour has an important Sandwich and Common Tern colony which resides on the Brownsea Lagoon each summer. Their long-term protection is under threat due to predicted rising sea levels and the potential breaching of the lagoon sea wall. So, in 2016 in partnership with the National Trust Purbeck Team we converted some old fish traps into large Tern breeding rafts which were placed out on Little Sea, Studland in the hope that an alternative breeding site could be offered should they need to relocate in the coming years.

Pioneering Nocturnal Migration Studies

Until recently, our understanding and knowledge of nocturnal migration of birds was extremely limited here in the UK. However, in the autumn of 2015, Birds of Poole Harbour in partnership with publishing company The Sound Approach and local surveyor Nick Hopper embarked on a pioneering new study that saw us begin to set up ‘listening stations’ around the harbour where the calls of nocturnally migrating birds were sound recorded and analysed to learn which species and how many birds were passing through an area whilst we were all tucked up in bed. The findings were exceptional and provided an insight to a world we were unaware of prior. Species such as Common Scoter, Ring Ouzel, Ortolan Bunting and Pied Flycatcher became frequently recorded species at certain times of year whilst Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and Snipe all became ‘common’ garden birds as they passed over in the dark. The research grew and became popular through the birding community and there are now many birders across the country carrying out the same research and learning new things about the night sky from their own back gardens.
Listen to examples of night Poole Harbours migrating birds –
Learn about how to start recording night migration –


Birds of Poole Harbour School Bird Boat Project

We recognise the importance and value in getting youngsters out into their local environment, learning about the natural world and also our place in it. With this in mind, each year Birds of Poole Harbour funds winter bird boats that take out up to 1,500 children out around the harbour to teach them about the local industry and wildlife. These boats are kindly funded by LUSH cosmetics and come at no cost to the school, the pupil or their parents and is an exciting opportunity for children to understand and visit parts of the harbour that they would otherwise be unlikely to see.

Live Poole Harbour webcams

Birds of Poole Harbour encourages people to engage with local wildlife, as well as monitoring the birds in the harbour. A successful way of combining these aims of the charity is through live streaming webcams of bird spectacles from around the harbour. We stream two webcams from Brownsea Lagoon which provide stunning images of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Spoonbill and breeding terns. We also have a webcam set up on a busy set of bird feeders at Livability Holton Lee which provides year round entertainment and drama. Our most recent webcam displays a live view of the first Osprey nest in Poole Harbour, documenting the important recolonisation of the species to this area. All webcams can be found here.


Birds of Poole Harbour Bird Boat Schedule

Since becoming established as a charity in 2013, Birds of Poole Harbour have increased the number of guided boat tours of the harbour every year. With roughly 30 trips per year now which include our popular Osprey Project and Puffin Cruises, the boats are an asset to the local community, connecting people to the wildlife in the harbour, as well as educating them on the important project work that Birds of Poole Harbour carry out. Due to popular demand, our range boat trips has now increased and now includes low-tide focused cruises as well as early morning ‘Up with the Lark’ trips, Safari Cruises, as well as our popular Osprey and Puffin Boats.
Discover the boat trips we currently offer here 

BoPH Engagement Centre on Poole Quay

Birds of Poole Harbour formed in early 2012 and became a registered charity in 2013. During the first five years all our people engagement and face-to-face work was achieved through our events and field trip schedule where we only met on average about 1000 people per year. Then in late 2017, we began work on an exciting new chapter for the charity which would see us design, create, present and open our new engagement HQ on Poole Quay front. On March 1st 2018, during heavy snow, we opened our doors for the very first time, providing the public with the opportunity to visit us and meet our team face-to-face whilst being able to enjoy and explore our displays and exhibitions. The highly interactive space showcased live webcams, large interactive touchscreen maps, listening stations, visually engaging displays, ethical optics and friendly staff to provide a portal and learning experience for everyone to enjoy.

In October 2021, the HQ closed its doors, but the interpretation found a new home in Poole Museum in one of their exhibition spaces. The exhibition closed in April 2022, but Birds of Poole Harbour are involved in the reworking of the museum’s new interpretation following their lottery funding, due to open in 2024.

Birds of Poole Harbour App Launch

In 2019, Birds of Poole Harbour launched an iPhone app designed as a guide to discovering the birdlife in and around Poole Harbour using an interactive map. The app focuses on 33 publicly accessible sites and provides information about the birding highlights and facilities at that location. Local landowners, including BCP Council, Dorset County Council, National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Livability Holton Lee, have kindly allowed us to install scannable plaques at key points on their land to allow people to learn more about the area and record their sightings through the app.

In 2020, with the creation of our new website, we stopped the development of the app, which is no longer available.

Call 01202 641 003