We spent a perfect family day out spotting wonderful Brownsea Island Wildlife last weekend, we have been many times before, but it had been a while since our last visit. It is a magical place, there is something very Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons about it. It is quiet and peaceful, a place to stretch our legs and fill our lungs with sea salted air.

Brownsea Island is one of eight islands dotted around the 14 square miles of Britain’s largest natural harbour. Just getting to the island is an adventure! Hop on to one of the small cheerfully painted ferry boats which transport people to the island leaving every half hour from Poole Town Quay or Sandbanks Jetty. They start running at 10 am with the last ferry returning at 5pm. It is a good idea to go early so you can spend the whole day exploring this beautiful, peaceful island which is administered by the National Trust.

 Catching a ferry from Poole Town Quay filled this one with joy! 

Brownsea Island Ferry

Brownsea Island enjoys an enormous variety of habitats which, of course, means there is an enormous variety of creatures!

Walking through the woodland you may be lucky enough to spot Sika deer, dragonflies or even red squirrels as the island is one of the last refuges for these beautiful little animals. Children really enjoy trying to spot them in the trees.

The best time to see the squirrels is in the autumn as they prepare themselves for winter and there are organised guided squirrel walks at this time of year which can be booked at the visitor centre a short walk from the landing stage.

Encourage children to look for the tell tale signs on the woodland floor as you explore together. We found lots of carefully chewed pine cones before we were lucky enough to see a squirrel. He was a bit camera shy and I struggled to capture anything more than a blur so you’ll have to take my word for it this time! 

I did manage to get a shot of a sika deer though, we were very privileged to share a moment with this beauty. We managed to get so close we could hear her chewing that cheekful of food!

Sika deer on Brownsea Island

Some of the creatures you will encounter are less shy. The island’s peacock population can be seen in the woodland, on the beautiful beaches and displaying their finery in the lovely open spaces which are perfect picnic spots. But beware, the peacocks are very fond of biscuits and are very cheeky; we had a cookie stolen from the fingers of an unsuspecting family member!

Peacocks on Brownsea Island

The island is fantastic for a family visit. You can choose to eat hot or cold food in the well stocked Villano café which is located where the ferry lands and overlooks the harbour. Or take a picnic with you and find a quiet peacock free spot on the beach or under one of the magnificent trees.

We were reluctant to go and catch the last ferry off the island at the end of the day – there was more playing and chilling to be done! 

He taught him to skim stones


Learning to skim stones

There was tree climbing, chatting, pine cone collecting, beach combing and running. This tree is a dragon, obviously!

Tree climbing

We loved meeting all the Brownsea Island Wildlife and will be back for more as soon as we can! If you are planning a family trip to Dorset you could also visit Compton Acres Gardens or Tout Quarry Sculpture Park




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