Arne Nature Reserve

A premier RSPB reserve with a fascinating combination of habitat that includes classic heathland, tidal estuary, woodland and remnants of farmland.   


Arne Nature Reserve: diversity beauty and tranquillity -

It took a while but in the end I was able to refine exactly why Arne is so special to me; its diversity, its beauty and its tranquillity. As a very amateur naturalist I appreciate the ecology of an environment; how the soil dictates the vegetation and how the vegetation dictates the insects that feed on it and the animals that predate the insects and so on up the food chain. Understand the environment and you start to understand its nature. The more variation you have in habitat so the greater the diversity of species. Arne may initially appear to be mainly heathland but it has much more to offer ranging from tidal mudflats and salt marsh, through dry heath and wet bog, acid woodland and conifer plantation, restored farmland and so the list goes on. Arne may be an RSPB reserve but it not just about birds, it is about giving nature a home!

The diversity of habitat also leads to a diversity of views, many of them are just beautiful. No rugged landscapes here but the colourful purple heath mingled with the blues of the sea and the greens of the trees and grasses. The sun sparkling on the waters of Middlebere creek with the menacing Corfe castle in the distance is one of my favourite pictures.

Finally, although loved by locals and visited by people from all over the country, Arne is a peaceful, tranquil place. No matter how busy the car park, once you are out walking you just occasionally meet people also enjoying a walk. As volunteer wardens we often stop to talk to them and they all seem to say the same thing; "isn't this a beautiful, peaceful place?". Its remote location helps, of course; no sound of busy roads here.

If you have never been to Arne but enjoy diversity, beauty and tranquillity get yourselves there as soon as you can!   

Site Name Arne Nature Reserve
Protection RSPB, Site of Scientific Interest
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Diversity Very High (over 200 species)
Map Reference SY972878
County Dorset
SSSI SSSI Information
Website RSPB website
Sites Photos

The woodland walk at Arne

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A background of water through the trees

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The foxgloves are at their best now

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Mixed scrub and heath is valued by small birds

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In addition to interesting wildlife Arne also has many lovely views

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The tidal saltmarsh at Shipstal is an area favoured by wintering birds and sika deer

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Some remnants of the old Arne Farm remain and are an added interest to the area

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Looking down on Shipstal beach

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Known as a heathland/wetland site Arne has some valuable woodland habitat too

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Some of the old farmland has been sown with wild flowers as food for finches in winter 

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The hide at Coombe Heath looks out over the tidal Middlebere Channel

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Site Diary
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The woodland disabled car park is open again so we were able to take advantage of it today:

  • I have never seen the water level in the 'dragonfly' ponds so low
  • Very few insects about again despite plenty of flowers
  • Found a new cluster of Dorset heath by the ponds

A bit overcast and windy so the woodland at Arne seemed to offer shelter:

  • As I have recorded most of Arne that I am likely to see just concentrated on 'specials' today
  • First marbled white I have ever seen at Arne though
  • The birch woodland, downy birch, never ceases to amaze

A bright but breezy day so we took our favoured woodland walk

  • Foxgloves at their best now and worth the visit on their own!
  • Four-spotted chaser laying eggs in one of the ponds
  • Song thrush feeding young

Otherwise very quiet for both wildlife and visitors


There is no information about this visit


There is no information about this visit