Brownsea Island – worth a visit

brownsea islandIf you live in Dorset, have visited or have looked into visiting, you will definitely have heard of Brownsea Island. Brownsea Island is located in Poole Harbour, and without bragging about it, the views that are offered are spectacular; the views go across the Purbeck Hills and include the bountiful wildlife that lives there, including the red squirrels.
Further to this there is also an Outdoor Centre, a unique camp site and lodge offering a number of activities on the island.

Did you know: Brownsea Island is where Baden Powell began his legacy of Scouting.

So if you start at the visitor centre, you will be met with plenty of history and mystery, along with a with details of people who have lived on the island, from a hermit in the Middle Ages to some rather reclusive characters.

Further details on Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest island in Poole harbour with an area covering approximately 500 acres and measuring 1.5 miles long by 0.75 miles wide. It can only be accessed by ferry or by private boat.

It enjoys beautiful views over to Studland, Old Harry Rocks and the Purbeck Hills.

Every year hundreds of scouts and guides still return to camp on the island and often help out with the land management.

The Island itself is actually owned by the National Trust and it has been referred to as one of the best places in Southern England to really be at one with nature.

It is made up of woodland, heathland, salt marsh and beaches and that is why the nature and wildlife is there; it is a perfect haven for such.

Things of Interest on Brownsea Island

birdwatching brownsea islandIf you are a birdwatcher you will particularly enjoy the island as you will be able to see quite a variety including geese, shelducks, and black headed gulls that have made the lagoon their home all year. Common and Sandwich Terns visit from Africa in the Spring and in winter they welcome such friends as the Grey Plover and Greenshank amongst others.
Brownsea Island also has a large number of avocets on the lagoon. These birds are waders and have distinctive black and white patterns and long up-curved beaks

Other Nature and Wildlife on Brownsea Island

This is one of the few places in England to still have the red squirrel as its full time guest. The red squirrel, which is native to Britain, is a protected species and in fact they are pretty much extinct in Southern England except for here on Brownsea and also on the Isle of Wight. Believe it or not, the main threats to red squirrels are grey squirrels, disease (squirrel poxvirus) and road traffic; we are pleased to say that all of these threats do not apply to Brownsea Island!

red squirrel brownsea islandThe red squirrel is an elusive and shy little creature and they spend alot of their time above ground in trees and shrubs; you would do well to look up from time to time as you walk around. When Autumn comes, they can be seen busily hunting on the woodland floor for seeds and nuts and are the most important pine-feeding creatures on Brownsea Island.

Sika deer, Britain’s second largest deer, are also residents of Brownsea Island. They too are a little shy and often hide in dense trees and plant cover.

You can expect to also see dragonflies and damsel flies at the lily pond, green woodpeckers and wood ants in the woodland, crabs and oystercatchers down by the beach and butterflies and tiger beetles in the heathland.

Peacocks, pheasants, rabbits and the common lizards also call Brownsea Island their home and it’s not difficult to see why!

Natural side of Brownsea Island

There are around sixty types of tree on the island and the heathland is awash with colourful heathers, gorse, wood sage, bird’s foot trefoil, heath milkwort, heath bedstraw and sheep sorrel, all which is very attractive to a variety of insects.

Plants such as lavender and sea thrift hug the sandy beaches attracting a variety of insects and bugs.

If you are interested in the fungi variety, you will be pleased to know that there is plenty of fungi to be seen on the island ranging from the common fungi such as red milkcaps and puffballs through to the rare Earthstar and the deadly Death Cap.

The fungus Earthstar is found here in summer and autumn. It is the only fungus that can move and has three layers. When it rains the two outer layers open up to reveal a beautiful star shape.

dead cap fungi brownsea islandDead Cap is a lethal fungus found near hardwood and conifer trees. These have been spotted on Brownsea in summer and should not be touched if found.

Walks on Brownsea Island

The island has plenty of walks allowing visitors to enjoy this wonderful place. We would personally recommend picking up a red squirrel or Scouting and Guiding self-led trail guide from the visitor centre. For those that prefer, there are also guided walks daily and red squirrel guided walks throughout the autumn months.

The visitor centre also offers a self led orienteering map so that more of the beautiful island can be discovered.

Children can also get involved by collecting a Tracker Pack from the visitors centre and there are self guided theme trails for them to follow.

Why not Bill Oddie proud by visiting one of the bird hides and trying and spot some of Brownsea’s birdlife?

When it comes to eating there are plenty of picnic areas and there is a cafe too. This definitely has everything you need to make a full day out of it.

Brownsea Island is open daily between March and November and on other selected dates.

So, if you haven’t considered going already, we would recommend that you visit Brownsea Island as there is so much on offer for everyone. If you are staying at the Castleton around the time you are planning to visit the island, why not let us arrange everything for you?

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