Sandwich Tern islands on Brownsea Island by Paul Williams

Sandwich Tern islands on Brownsea Island by Paul Williams 

Brownsea Island © Brian Bleese
Avocet © Andy Fale

Avocet © Andy Fale

Brownsea Island Lagoon is a Breeding Bird Sensitive Area April to June and an important haven for migrating and wintering birds at other times. Please avoid disturbing the birds at any time by keeping to paths and the hides provided. No access is permitted along the northern shoreline of the island.  

Brownsea Island is an internationally important nature reserve featuring rare wildlife, including red squirrels and wading birds. Located at the heart of Poole Harbour, it is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the National Trust and part of The Great Heath Living Landscape.
Scroll down to see our Brownsea Island webcam.

Location

Brownsea Island
Poole
BH13 7EE

OS Map Reference

SZ0317787743
A static map of Brownsea Island

Know before you go

Size
101 hectares

Entry fee

Small donation on entry to the reserve

Parking information

Parking at Sandbanks- There is metered road parking available on the peninsular leading up to the ferry and Sandbanks car park is a 10-minute walk from the Sandbanks jetty. Parking at Poole- There are well signposted car parks at Poole Quay, where the boa

Bicycle parking

N/A

Grazing animals

No

Walking trails

Good viewing from hides and a system of paths and boardwalks give access to most of the habitats.

Please click here for more information and guidance about dogs on DWT nature reserves.

Access

The main track, Villa Wildlife Centre and two hides for lagoon views can be easily accessed. 

Dogs

Guide dogs only
See above for more information about dogs on nature reserves.

Facilities

Visitor centre
Bird hides
Toilets
Picnic area
Disabled toilet

When to visit

Opening times

We are now open until Thursday 31st October 2019.

Best time to visit

Early in the year for winter bird visitors, summer for breeding terns and autumn for red squirrel watching.

About the reserve

Brownsea Island is a very special place. It is one of the few places left in the UK where you can catch a glimpse of a red squirrel. 250 of these iconic creatures live on the island and are often seen scampering up and down the trees gathering and devouring nuts. If you have adopted one of these beautiful and playful creatures from DWT, you can get the chance to see them – a wonderfully comical sight in autumn when they busily start caching food for the winter ahead, searching out just the right spot to hide them in- a process that can take some time!

And it’s not just the red squirrels that the nature detectives in the family will be able to spot – the lagoon plays a vital role in providing a safe haven for overwintering birds including avocets, black-tailed godwits and large numbers of wildfowl. In winter it’s also possible see huge groups of spoonbills. These tall white birds can be seen swishing their spoon-shaped bills through the water as they feed. 

In the summer, the lagoon’s hides are a great place to watch common terns, sandwich terns and gulls from. The reedbeds and alder carr are home to water voles, sika deer, kingfishers and water rails.

We are very fortunate to have such a fascinating reserve on this beautiful island – which we share with the National Trust, the Scouts and John Lewis Partnership. Brownsea Island was saved for wildlife and people to enjoy in 1962 when the National Trust took ownership and leased the northern part to Dorset Wildlife Trust. Since then we have worked to protect the habitats of rare and threatened wildlife, which find sanctuary in its woods, reedbeds and lagoon. (Take a walk through the woods following the footpaths to see glorious views across Poole Harbour.)

Our Villa is situated in the middle of the reserve. Why not bring a picnic and sit on the benches in the sun, watching birds and squirrels nibbling seeds from the nearby feeders? We have some exciting plans for the future of our reserve with our #WildBrownsea project will hopefully see a new information gateway installed into the reserve. 

Scroll down to watch our wildlife webcam from Brownsea featuring the Sandwich Terns.

Contact us

Environmental designation

Ramsar
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
SPA

Brownsea Island Webcam

Wildlife camera system by Wildlife Windows Ltd

Lagoon webcam in collaboration with Birds of Poole Harbour.

birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk

Brownsea Island Nature Trail Map

Brownsea Island Nature Trail Map

Upcoming Events on Brownsea Island

The Great Heath Living Landscape

The Great Heath Living Landscape

Part of The Great Heath Living Landscape