Poole Harbour is made up of many different habitats, which in turn provides a stunning variety of bird life throughout the entire year.

This is an interactive guide to help you learn where the best places are to watch birds, and at what times of the year. Explore the local reserves and viewpoints below to discover what is on offer.

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Poole Park

There’s a whole lot more to Poole Park than feeding the ducks and a visit in winter or early spring can reward the observer with many species other than just Mallard and Canada Goose. Resident species such as Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen and Greylag Geese are easily found but look a little harder and there’s more to Poole Park than you might realise.

Winter provides the most variety as wanderers from the harbour seek sanctuary on Poole Park’s shallow and sheltered lakes. Each winter between 5-10 Red-breasted Merganser venture on to the main boating lake along with several Goldeneye and it’s certainly worth keeping any eye out for Scaup, Goosander and Smew during periods of colder weather. The lakes attract 2-3 Kingfisher each winter and there’s probably no better place in Poole Harbour to try and see these remarkable birds on a cold winter’s day.

Each winter/early spring the main lake is drained, exposing an attractive set of muddy pools, irresistible to several species of wading bird. Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher and Turnstone can all be attracted to feed on the lake during this period with big gull gatherings also occurring late in the afternoon. Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Mediterranean Gull and Black-headed Gull all roost and feed when the mud is exposed.

In spring, the lakes are a welcome stopover site for passage Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin and in the summer a large gathering of Swift can be found hawking insects over the lakes. Little Grebe are regular during the winter and occasionally a Black-necked Grebe will venture onto the main boating lake. The thin stands of trees bordering the numerous footpaths around the lakes can hold small parties of Siskin whilst several Yellow-browed Warbler have been logged over the past few years. Rarities in recent years have included Long-billed Dowitcher, Ring-billed Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck.

Birding Info

Winter is definitely the best time to bird Poole Park and can offer great urban views of Kingfisher from October through to February. When the main boating lake is drained for a few weeks each year it attracts a good variety of waders including Redshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher. A scope is useful to see further out onto the main boating lake.


There are currently no hides or viewing screens at Poole Park but birds can be found relatively easily during the winter with the main boating lake holding most interest. There are public toilets close by and a selection of eateries. Within the park. A large foot path boarders the entire boating lake and is worth a walk around during winter with Kingfisher, Red-breasted merganser and Goldeneye seen daily.


There is good parking around the Poole Park area. After midday it’s best to park along Park Lake Road, BH15 1TR as the light will be behind you where as in the mornings it’s best to park along Whitecliff Road BH14 8DX. The park closes at dusk and is closed to vehicles between 6am and 10am Monday to Saturday. When the park is open you can also park in main Poole Park car park at BH15 1TU or the Ark car park at BH15 2QE.


Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Iceland Gull, Swift, Kingfisher, Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin


Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Oystercatcher, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Swift


Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Swift, Kingfisher, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, mixed tit flocks in the surrounding woodland, Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll


Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Firecrest, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll

Call 01202 641 003