Dogs & Birds around our Winter coasts

A special place for all sorts of birds!

Thank you to Andreas Trepte for permission to use his Oystercatcher photo (find more of his photos at

Our dogs and flocks

During the autumn and winter you may have seen carrot-beaked flocks of black-and-white Oystercatchers around Poole Harbour, you’ll often see them in nearby parks and on grassy verges too.  There are many other birds that overwinter around the harbour and other Dorset shorelines, some of them are rare species that are really struggling to survive.

We can help the birds to survive and thrive and here’s how

  • Don’t let your dog chase flocks.  It may not seem like a big deal but if dogs run close to or chase flocks of birds that are overwintering or migrating it can affect their future chances of staying healthy enough to survive and breed, especially if they are already exhausted or short of food.
  • Keep your distance.  Some birds are more flighty than others, and whilst for some a short disturbance may not do much harm for others it could be the final straw – and we can’t tell which is which – so try to keep yourself and your dog at a reasonable distance away so that the flock does not have to take flight.Other things like bait digging, kayaking, fishing and all sorts of other activities can make them take flight – so it’s not just us who are being asked to keep our distance with our dogs.
  • Think about other places you might like to visit while the flocks are there.  Dorset Dogs has produced an updated leaflet ‘Enjoying Dorset with your Dog’ with 75 suggestions for places you can enjoy walking with your dog – you can pick this up from local libraries and information centres, at our events or check out the ‘Out & About’ pages.
  • The Birds of Poole Harbour’ leaflet includes more information about the birds and about how you can help.  It also includes a great map of Poole Harbour with photos of the birds – and it just might help you with the answers to the quiz below!

Can you spare 2 minutes (really just 2 minutes) to do a Dorset Dogs survey.
Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Just 7 quick questions

Please take the survey if you haven’t done it before and also if you did the survey last year – it’s an update.

It’s relevant for anyone who ever visits any part of the coast around Poole Harbour or the Studland beaches (eg. Studland beaches, Arne, Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay, Baiter, Whitecliff, Hamworthy Beach, Bramble Bush or Brands Bay – or anywhere else around Poole Harbour)

Just click on the link:

All year round we can see some fabulous birds around Poole Harbour; Cormorants perched on the skeletal wrecks of little boats, Little Egrets stalking the mud flats with their surprising yellow feet, swans massing in floating drifts across quieter bays or – if we’re lucky – rare terns mobbing and diving right next to the Sandbanks Ferry.

You can watch the Birds of Poole Harbour webcam here

Birds are in for the winter right now! Check out


Can you guess which is which?

1. Little Egret   2. Mediterranean Gull  3. Common Tern 
4. Shelduck 5. Oystercatcher 6. Black-tailed Godwit 
7. Avocet

Check your answers below!

The photos are reproduced with kind permission of

Oystercatcher photo is reproduced with permission from Andreas Trepte (

Quiz answers:
Top row: 5,7,6
Middle row: 3,1,2
Bottom row: 4

Useful links for further information:

Birds of Poole Harbour Leaflet – information specially put together for you and your dog!  The leaflet shows you some of the birds, the areas that are particularly sensitive for them and tells us how we can help them to survive. If you would like a printed copy of the Birds of Poole Harbour leaflet please email

Poole Harbour Trails – find out about walking around Poole Harbour at

Studland National Trust beaches

Also available: Bird Disturbance Study Poole Harbour – scientific study by Footprint Ecology – Click here
 Bird Disturbance Study Poole Harbour – Map Annex
Click here