We’re excited to offer a short break in Dorset with Jack Perks, to explore at leisure the wonderful area of Arne, as featured on BBC Winterwatch & Autumnwatch.
Arne is like a slice of the Mediterranean that’s been put into southern England! At 550 hectares it features many habitats from woodland, scrub, coastal mudflats, reed beds, sandy beaches and ponds but is most associated with heathland. Because of the variety of habitats Arne is home to a great diversity of wildlife and thousands of species have been recorded.
Many heathland specialists call it home, from all 6 native reptiles to tiger beetles, parasitic wasps and 237 species of spider recorded including the raft spider our largest native species, the wasp spider (a relatively recent colonist) and the stunningly beautiful ladybird spider.
Over 500 species of vascular plant have been recorded since the reserve was acquired by the RSPB in 1966, including Dorset Heath (Erica ciliaris), voted the county flower of Dorset in 2002 following a poll by the conservation charity Plantlife.
Arne played a starring role in last year’s BBC Winterwatch and 2016’s Autumnwatch broadcasts and has been nominated for ‘Nature Reserve of the Year’ in BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018. Situated on the Arne peninsula, the reserve also gives fantastic views across Poole Harbour towards Corfe Castle and Purbeck.
During our stay we’ll go on a new part of the reserve that’s being surveyed for the first time to see what reptiles are present along with other wildlife. A moth trap will be put out at night also and we’ll head down in the morning to see what may have turned up.
The birdlife at Arne is phenomenal as well, with ospreys regularly using the estuary to hunt and roosts of waders such as sandpipers, curlew, oystercatcher and spoonbill present. The Dartford warbler can be seen on the many gorse bushes, and nightjars, which breed on the reserve can also be found.
There’s plenty of mammals to look forward to also with Sika deer being found all over the site. Originating in East Asia, these animals escaped from deer parks during the 1860s and have now become naturalised, living on the heath and oak woodland of the site. Water voles are present on the many pools and nearby Brownsea Island has a healthily population of red squirrels, which we will visit.
For the duration of the holiday we’ll be staying in the nearby Kingston Courtyard (15 minute drive to Arne) and treated to a breakfast before heading out to the reserve. There’s a bar/restaurant onsite with Wifi and rooms all feature the usual home comforts.
This promises to be an excellent opportunity to study and enjoy a variety of specialist species found on the Dorset heathland in summer. We hope you can join us!