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Large numbers now seen in Poole Harbour in winter but scarce elsewhere in Dorset.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Avocet: welcome back

Post date: Saturday, 15 November, 2014 - 00:00

We first started visiting Arne about 30 years ago when we still lived near Winchester. It has always been a favourite place and holds many happy memories of special things we have seen there over the years. We even used to have our Christmas picnic lunch there (returning home for Christmas Dinner!) in the Coombe Heath Hide. 

Initially an avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) at Arne (or anywhere else for that matter) was just a dream. Then they started arriving, more and more each year and now there are hundreds, if not a thousand or more. I look forward to their return each year and I love to see the way they will often team up and work an area of mud together.

From near extinction in the UK to now a common winter visitor to Poole Harbour (and the River Exe, Pagham Harbour and other places) the avocet is a real success story and one that the RSPB can be rightly proud of as they have a had a major hand in the revival of this birds fortunes; indeed they use it as their logo. The lagoon on Brownsea Island is probably an even better place to see them but as the island is closed during the winter you have to get on one of the special Dorset Wildlife Trust excersions to see them.

They are such special birds and are bound to create debate in our family as to whether they are the most beautiful of birds or whether that honour belongs to the barn owl. The avocet is, to me at least, nature in perfection!


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Avocet
Scientific Name Recurvirostra avosetta
Status Locally frequent
Interest Level
Species Family Other Waders
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for A black and white bird with a unique up turned bill
Additional Identification Notes
  • Once very scarce but now a  thousand or so over winter in Poole Harbour
  • Make a wonderful sight as they take to flight together
  • Unmistakable being the only wader with an upcurved bill and blue legs