Nature and Wildlife in Dorset

Looking for a destination where you can see rare and endangered wildlife in their natural habitats? Or enjoy all that nature has to offer? Then Dorset is certainly the place for you.

With over half of the county being Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's no surprise that we have some of the best wildlife and natural landscapes found anywhere in the UK.

Dorset is a diverse haven which many different species call home, some of which are so rare that they can't be found anywhere else!

With all of our fabulous wildlife to enjoy, it really is a nature lover’s dream location to visit. So pack your binoculars and venture out into the great outdoors.

Get back to nature

Dorset is filled with country parks, nature reserves and wide open spaces where you can run free, breathe in fresh air and truly feel at one with nature.

The Blue Pool is surround by 25 acres of heathland and woodland in the beautiful Isle of Purbeck. The tranquil pool is ever-changing in colour, from blue to turquoise to green. Follow the sandy paths down to the waters edge and up to the viewpoint looking towards Corfe Castle.

Dorset also has a number of fantastic RSPB and Dorset Wildlife Trust reserves which give an incredible chance to see a wide variety of wildlife up-close within their natural habitats.

Best places for bird watching

Being located in the most southerly position in Dorset, the Isle of Portland's unique geology and climate are ideal for a wide variety of birds and animals. So, if you enjoy bird-watching of coastal or migratory birds, then it’s a great place to indulge your passion. Plus over half of Britain's fifty seven butterfly species can be seen on Portland, along with rare plants species only found in a handful of locations in the UK.

Some of Dorset’s other bird watching hotspots include Durlston Country Park’s coastal location on the Isle of Purbeck, the sheltered fleet lagoon found nestled behind Chesil Beach and Poole Harbour – Europe’s largest natural harbour.

Unique species

Red squirrels are very rare in southern England, only existing in small populations and Brownsea Island is one of those places. Surrounded by Poole Harbour, the water keeps grey squirrels at bay, meaning the endangered reds are kept safe and sound and can eat as many pine cones as they can manage!

Dorset's heathlands are an important part of a global resource and are home to all six of Britain's native reptile species. More sand lizards and smooth snakes are found on these heaths than anywhere else in the country. It is also home to the extremely rare lady bird spider, so rare in fact that it was thought extinct in Britain until it was discovered in 1980 and is now being re-introduced to a small corner of the county.

Get up close and personal

There are always interesting events and courses taking place across the county, giving you the opportunity to learn from an expert or get close to wildlife without disturbing or damaging the environment. So grab your ID guides, binos and camera and get ready to be amazed.

Abbotsbury Swannery is home to the only managed colony of free-flying mute swans in the world that visitors can walk among. During the nesting and hatching period (end May-end June), it is possible to stand next to hatching eggs and see the very cute sygnets getting used to family life.

Stay a little longer

With all of this available right here in Dorset, we hope that we’ve given you more than enough reason to visit.  

We're got a great selection of accommodation to stay over or places to eat out in-between wildlife watching.

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Abbotsbury Swannery

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Brownsea Island

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Cumulus Outdoor Adventure

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Farmer Palmer's Farm Park

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Fore Adventure

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Jurassic Coast Guides

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Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

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Purbeck Park

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Discover Dorset'swonderful wildlife

Bird Watching

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Nature Reserves

Dorset is well known for being a rural and wildlife rich county, with many nature reserves to explore.

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Nature Events

When you visit Dorset, you are transported into an unspoilt world of outstanding natural beauty.

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Heritage & Culture

Discover Dorset's rich and intriguing heritage and soak up the atmosphere of bygone eras.

Cafes & Coffee Shops

If you're looking for a snack or drink, you’re never too far from a café or coffee shop in Dorset.

Eating Out

Enjoy some of the freshest, local produce at one of Dorset cafes, pubs or restaurants

Accommodation

Dorset has a fantastic range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.