PLEASE NOTE: Members of Dorset Wildlife Trust do NOT have to pay a landing fee on arrival at Brownsea Island if they are only visiting the Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve. However, a valid membership card will need to be shown to National Trust staff on arrival. If you would like to visit the rest of the Island you must pay the National Trust landing charges for this.
Internationally important habitat in Poole Harbour managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the National Trust; part of The Great Heath Living Landscape.
Brownsea Island Nature Reserve is one of the most spectacular nature reserves in Britain, with a diverse range of habitats and wildlife. Its sheltered lagoon is particularly important for large flocks of overwintering birds and for nesting terns in summer, with exceptional viewing from our bird hides. The pine woods are home to one of the few remaining red squirrel populations in England. In 1962 Brownsea Island was saved for wildlife and people 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.
Read about our #WildBrownsea plans here.
Watch all the autumn/winter migrants from the comfort of your home by clicking below.
If you can't see an arrow above, just refresh your page, and hopefully it will appear!
Wildlife camera system by Wildlife Windows Ltd. Lagoon webcam in collaboration with Birds of Poole Harbour. birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk
There is a half-hourly boat service to Brownsea Island from 10.00 am which departs from Poole Quay and Sandbanks. The last boat service from the Island is 17.00. For general information and for wheelchair users please contact the ferry operators Brownsea Island Ferries (operate from Poole Quay and Sandbanks) or Greenslade Pleasure Boats (operate from Poole Quay) for further information.
In addition the National Trust run a wheelchair accessible boat service on the Seahorse. The Seahorse has a limited boat timetable that runs according to Poole Harbour tides. Please contact 01202 707744 for more details.
Please note that it is not possible to bring bikes to the island. However, cycle racks are available at Poole Quay and Sandbanks Jetty. More information on cycle routes to these areas can be found at the National Cycle networks webpage.
The number 50 bus service from Bournemouth bus station to Swanage (Purbeck Breezer) and number 60 bus from Poole bus station to Swanage (Purbeck Breezer) stop at Sandbanks. For Poole Quay please use Route one which runs via the bus station and train station. Please see the dorsetforyou website for further details
The nearest train station to Poole Quay is Poole station 0.5 miles. If travelling from the Sandbanks Jetty, Branksome or Parkstone stations are 3.5 miles away. For more information please see south west trains website.
Access and safety
There is good viewing from the hides and a system of paths and boardwalks give access to most of the habitats.
Due to high fire risk, no barbeques or fires are allowed on the island.
The lagoon and reedbeds are dangerous and should not be accessed!
Manual wheelchairs are available from the National Trust visitor reception, pre-book on 01202 707744 option 8. There are also electric buggy tours for the less mobile, please phone 01202 707744 for further information.
The Villa Wildlife Centre, DWT Brownsea reserve and Bird Hides
The Villa Wildlife Centre has a shop, wildlife exhibition centre and toilets. From the five bird hides you can look out to the lagoon islands, lakes and along the reeds for numerous bird species.
There is a suggested £2 donation for entry into the nature reserve.
Species and habitats
Lagoon, woodland, reedbed, lakes, alder carr and shoreline.
Large flocks of waders, particularly avocets, black-tailed godwits and spoonbills; large numbers of visiting wildfowl during winter.
In the summer breeding common terns, Sandwich terns and gulls.
The reedbeds and alder carr are home to water voles, sika deer, kingfishers and water rails.
Approximately, 200 Red Squirrels!
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 staying to paths and the hides provided. No access is permitted along the northern shoreline of the island.
More about Poole Harbour at www.pooleharbouraqmp.co.uk
More about birds at birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk
Downloadable Brownsea Island Nature Reserve Nature Trail Leaflet
Read our wardens' sightings here for November, September and October, July and August.
For all the events on Brownsea, many of which are educational as well as fun, whether for adults or children please see The Great Heath events page.
DWT also run educational programmes on Brownsea Island. For more information please click here.
Help make a difference to your local wildlife by volunteering. Fortnightly practical work parties are run from the centre on Fridays. There are also other volunteering options such as administration, guiding walks, giving talks etc. Please contact 01202 709445 if you are interested or see The Great Heath events page.
Other nearby sites
Upton Heath, Corfe Mullen Meadows, Lytchett Bay, Upton Wood, Hamworthy Park, NT Brownsea Island, Holes Bay.
Brownsea Island map