Poole Harbour – Birdwatching cruises

Birds of Poole Harbour, is a charity completely dedicated to educating people on the stunning variety of bird life in one of the country’s most picturesque locations, helping you make the most of this truly breathtaking natural harbour.

They are a charity completely dedicated to boosting the profile of bird CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION and OBSERVATION in and around Poole Harbour.  From local schools, passionate residents and intrigued tourists, Birds of Poole Harbour offers a unique learning opportunity to a large audience.

Poole Harbour is a designated RAMSAR site and has SPA (Special Protection Area) designation.  This means it hosts nationally and internationally important numbers of a whole host of bird species, making it one of the most ecologically important areas in Southern Britain, not to mention being bordered by some of the most pristine examples of Lowland Heathland in the country.   Therefore, the study of birds and the monitoring of their numbers and behaviour is vital to the ongoing conservation efforts that take place.  Through their work, we love to provide opportunities to enhance peoples understanding of this incredible area, whilst inviting you to experience it with them.

With so many birds to see and so many places to look for them, Birds of Poole Harbour is here to help guide you around some of the well known, and not so well known, sites of this large harbour.  With regular events, specially commissioned surveys, live webcams and day by day updates, they aim to make Poole Harbour a focus for bird watchers from across the country.  Whether an avid beginner or an experienced naturalist, there’s something for everyone.


Birds of Poole Harbour Events


Up with the Lark To complement our hugely popular winter bird boat trips, we thought we’d offer a slightly warmer option and create a NEW Spring tour for you to relax and enjoy.  It’s not just the birds we’ll be focusing on, but also the wonderfully rich and scenic setting of the Wareham Channel and Frome Valley which at dawn lights up and plays host to numerous bird species as they prepare for the breeding season ahead.  With both April and May being strong months for migration who knows what we’ll see, but as we meander our way up the channel and into the river valley we’ll be listening out for spring songsters.
Poole Harbour Osprey Cruise In the summer of 2017, Birds of Poole Harbour began a five-year Osprey translocation project with the aim of re-establishing this once common bird to its former breeding grounds here on the south coast.  With the huge success of last years Osprey boat tours we’re offering eight trips this summer for you to see and learn first hand from the project leaders about these incredible birds.  Ospreys migrate through Poole Harbour every spring and autumn with the largest gatherings occurring around mid to late August.
Winter Wareham Channel and Poole Harbour Cruise The Wareham Channel provides excellent birding opportunities during the winter, especially for birds of prey, as Marsh and Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon and Merlin all take advantage of the abundant prey that Poole Harbour attracts during the winter.  This new three and a half hour tour will see us creep up the River Frome, scouring flood plains and reedbeds for spectacular raptors and a whole range of winter visitors ranging from Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing, Shoveler and Pintail.  Afterwards we’ll then tour a part of the harbour and finish by checking out the Brownsea Lagoon to see many of Poole Harbour’s over-wintering waders.
Poole Harbour Low Tide Cruise Poole Harbour in winter is spectacular, inspirational and without doubt, one of the most important areas in southern Britain for thousands of over-wintering waders and waterfowl.  We have decided to offer more trips this winter to bring you closer to some of the harbour’s well known, and not so well known, winter residents.  Averaging only a meter deep, Poole Harbour can be a minefield to navigate on a high tide, let alone a low tide.  However, Birds of Poole Harbour are pleased to announce a NEW bird boat experience, which will provide stunning low tide views out across the harbour and its nutrient rich mud.  Vital to waders, the many estuaries and creeks provide feeding areas for species such as Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher.  With the water drained out of the harbour, species such as Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Northern Diver are forced to restricted open bodies of water, making them easier to find as wildfowl such as Wigeon and Pintail leave the cover of the saltmarsh to take advantage of the restricted feeding opportunities.  We’ll be cruising around the harbour before making our way up the Wareham Channel with the rising tide, hoping to log as many of the harbour’s over-wintering wader and wildfowl species as we can, and with the Wareham Channel being a raptor hotspot we’ll be keeping an eye out for a harrier or two as well.
Purbeck Puffin Cruise Not known for its breeding sea birds, this section of the Jurassic Coast plays host to a small, fragile and secret colony of Puffins at Dancing Ledge, along with larger numbers of nesting Guillemot and Razorbill.  Our three-hour cruise will see us depart from Poole Quay on an evening charter and head out of the harbour mouth, along the coast down to Dancing Ledge in the hope of seeing the Puffins as they settle on the water for their evening preen before they then head up to cliff ledges.  Learn all about this dramatic coastline, its birds and its history by joining us on this late spring adventure, then, on the way home, we’ll hopefully time our arrival back into the harbour just right so that the early summer sunset draws a perfect ending to our trip.  NB: These trips are weather dependent and if winds are too strong we will not be able to leave the harbour for safety reasons.  Although every effort will be made to visit the puffin colony, if the captain decides that the weather prevents us from doing so, a Poole Harbour boat tour will be carried out instead and no refunds will be offered.  If weather conditions prohibit both a coastal and harbour cruise then a full refund will be offered to guests.
Summer nightjar experience The magical call of the Nightjar is something NOT to be missed on a balmy summer evening.  Join one of our team on a Nightjar exploration as we track down these incredible birds and watch the day fade away whilst the birds serenade us in the dim evening light.
Sunnyside ringing demos Ever wondered what goes on out in the darkness of Poole Harbour?  This partnership event between Birds of Poole Harbour, Stour Ringing Group, and Natural England sees our team head out in search of Woodcock, Common Snipe and Jack Snipe, and host a ringing demo, talking about the ecology and conservation work relating to each species.