In the summer of 2017 I was lucky enough to camp in the wonderful and almost serene RSPB Arne nature reserve.

Not far from the village of Wareham in Dorset. RSPB’s Arne nature reserve is a must for anyone remotely interested in wildlife in the south west or even for those from further afield.  It is probably more accessible by car as the nearest bus and train station are around 3 to 4 miles away from the reserve.

As you get to the car park there are multiple ways to go, a few take you up a hill to witness the spectacular view of the reserve and on wards over Poole harbour where, the famous and one of my favourite places, Brownsea Island can be seen. While another takes you straight deep into the reserve.

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The morning view across the estuary

Arne is home to all six species of Britain’s reptiles; the slowworm (Anguis fragilis), adder (Vipera berus), barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) and the common lizard or, if you’re not British, the viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara).  However, we only managed to see a small dead male slowworm in the field we camped in.

Also on the reserve are my all time favourite birds, the osprey (Pandion haliaetus). However, I’m an idiot and only packed one very undercharged camera battery so didn’t get a photo of one and the one chance I had, the osprey was too far even for my zoom lens.

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We only spent one night here but the highlights which would usually be missed by normal visitors would be the early morning.  A guide tried to get us to listen to a few early morning nightjars but we were unsuccessful although a few sika deer (Cervus nippon) and an attention seeking wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) were there to see.

Another big positive and one first for me was to spot a great raft spider (Dolomedes plantarius) along with an impressive wasp spider (Argiope bruennichi) not far away from it. Both rather large spiders are not usually easy to see, although the wasp spider does appear now and then in gardens.

A slightly over-exposed osprey, although taken when I was in Scotland

Although I haven’t, I will definitely come back to Arne.

For more information on RSPB Arne and/or how to get there:

RSPB Arne Nature Reserve

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