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 designated at National Landscapes, 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.

We handrawn heart Springwatch 2023

Springwatch 2023

The BBC's Springwatch 2023 was hosted at RSPB Arne Nature Reserve in the Isle of Purbeck this year.

Highlightedfor you

Brownsea Island

The perfect day’s adventure, this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore. The island sits in the middle of Poole Harbour, with...

Cumulus Outdoor Adventure

Cumulus Outdoors offers unrivalled outdoor experience and a range of outdoor adventure experiences for families and private groups, a range of school residential programmes including field studies,...

Farmer Palmer's Farm Park

Farmer Palmer's is where young adventurers can frankly ‘let their hair down’ without older children around to stifle their enjoyment! Designed specifically for children aged 0-8years,...

Fore Adventure

Fore / Adventure host two hour taster sessions to three day expeditions for all ages and abilities, getting closer to nature by sea kayak and stand up paddle board and enjoying the fruits of natures...

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

To inject a sense of fun into your family days out then head to Moors Valley Country Park and Forest to get active in the outdoors and have yourself a family adventure. You are sure to find something...

Purbeck Park

Purbeck Park - Where adventures begin… Located in the centre of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, Purbeck Park is a 'must visit' location. Start here and explore nearby attractions and the...

RSPB Arne Nature Reserve

Arne Nature Reserve is situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset National Landscape, it's a stunning landscape which consists of dramatic open heathland and ancient oak woodland.  Arne...

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands (Radipole and Lodmoor)

The RSPB Weymouth Wetlands nature reserves are hidden gems in the heart of Weymouth.  Comprises of 2 reserves (RSPB Radipole Lake and RSPB Lodmoor) and a Discovery Centre.  Nestled in...

The Blue Pool Nature Reserve and Tearooms

Discover the enchanting Blue Pool Nature Reserve & Tearooms, a hidden treasure nestled in the Furzebrook Estate in the Isle of Purbeck. Escape into a world of wonder as you wander along sandy...

Abbotsbury Swannery

Abbotsbury Swannery is the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans. A visit to this beautiful and tranquil place is one of the most...

Discover Dorset'swonderful wildlife

Nature Reserves

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

Bird Watching

Whether you are a complete beginner or a keen birder, there are some fantastic bird watching locations here in...

Gardens & Parks

Dorset’s mild climate makes it a perfect location for some truly magical gardens.

We handrawn heart Nature Events

Nature Events

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

You may also like...

Heritage & Culture

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

Eating Out

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


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

What does your Dorset look like? Adventures on our epic coastline? Visiting attractions with family? A walk through the beautiful countryside? Or perhaps a chilled out evening eating and drinking with friends? Discover a sample of your #VisitDorset images below and share your love for Dorset using the hashtag on Instagram.