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About Arne

RSPB Arne reserve

Image: Andy Hay

This is an unusual and special landscape where you can enjoy a vast expanse of open heathland and old oak woodland. Arne is a fantastic place for family walks at any time of year and we have regular children's days that enable all the family to learn about the unique nature of the heaths.

There is a variety of special wildlife to see. In summer look out for Dartford warblers nesting in the heather, nightjars flying at dusk and as many as 22 species of colourful dragonflies. The reserve overlooks Poole Harbour where you can watch thousands of wading birds, ducks and geese including avocets, black-tailed godwits and brent geese in winter. Ospreys are regularly seen on migration in late summer and in autumn.

In April 2009 a new eco-friendly information centre was constructed. Complete with seasonal nest cameras, a ‘nature table’ where visitors can find out more about the wildlife at Arne, a wood burner, information about the reserve, and a hot drinks machine where visitors can purchase drinks with all profits going back into our conservation work. RSPB staff organise a range of guided walks and events to help you see some of our most exciting species.

Opening times

The Shipstal and Coombes trails are open at all times; the car park opens at 8.30 am and is locked at dusk.

Entrance charges

Entry charges per car: £2 for up to two hours, £4 for over two hours. Free entry for members - display membership card on car dashboard.

If you are new to birdwatching...

For people new to birdwatching, Arne offers a chance to see the speciality birds found on heathlands like the Dartford warbler (all year) and the nightjar (summer only). The reserve's location within Poole Harbour will allow you to get to grips with a variety of wading birds and wildfowl (ducks, geese and swans), the best times being during the spring/autumn passage and the winter months. Birds of prey are well represented, with peregrines, ospreys, and marsh and hen harriers seen regularly. A number of themed guided walks are run through the year to look for some of these birds.

Information for families

We have a range of activities for families including the popular 'Bird Bingo' game which gets all the family searching for bugs, flowers and all sorts of other wildlife, as well as organised children's events such as Building a Bug Hotel and Build your own Nestbox. We also have our Wildlife Explorer backpacks full of exploring tools to help you get really up close and personal with Arne's wildlife.

Information for dog owners

Dogs are welcome here, but please keep them on a lead at all times. Please keep them on a short lead (less than 2m) during the bird breeding season between 1 March and 31 August, and when near farm animals all year-round. Please be aware that there are no dog waste bins at Arne, the nearest is in the village of Ridge on the Arne road. But please pick up after your dog and take it away with you.

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 50.68888,-2.04102
  • Postcode: BH20 5BJ
  • Grid reference: SY971876
  • Nearest town: Wareham, Dorset
  • County: Dorset
  • Country: England

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.