« Good Practice Guide
This is a gentle activity that involves watching and enjoying wildlife in their natural habitat. Taking the time to appreciate the wildlife can be done at any time both on the coast and out in the sea. On or near the coast there are many nature reserves that provide a great place for visitors to observe and enjoy the wildlife.
They are generally maintained by councils or organisations, often voluntarily. Nature Reserves are specially designated areas that work for both the interest of the wildlife watcher and the wildlife. Observers are allowed to explore the reserves and enjoy the wildlife in its natural habitat and the wildlife has the chance to thrive in a monitored and maintained environment.
What do I need?
- Binoculars – don’t just rely on your own eyesight. By looking at wildlife, undetected and from a distance you can see a new side to wildlife watching, allowing you to admire the more subtle actions and interactions of creatures.
- Footwear – Make sure you have suitable footwear, a lot of nature reserves have clear paths to follow but some may take you across less friendly terrain.
- There is no set ‘wildlife watching attire’, however if you want to watch wildlife undetected you may want to dress in colours that don’t blatantly stand out.
- Local wildlife book – If you want to identify and learn about the wildlife.
When is the best time to do it?
Watching wildlife in Dorset can be done any time. If you wish to go to reserves, check first to see the opening times.
Planning your trip
Do your bit:
- Take home all your rubbish – discard rubbish found in the sea or on beaches spoils peoples experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine creatures and birds and can be a hindrance to fishermen with litter getting tangled up in their nets. Find out more about Marine litter in Dorset.
- Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 0300 1234 999.
- Understand the Countryside Code
- Follow foot paths and guides from visitor centres. Straying off the path can disturb wildlife
- Do not collect any plants or animals without permission from the organisation/land maintainers.
- Dispose of your litter appropriately or take it home with you
- If you have a dog make sure it’s under control around areas of wildlife and livestock. In some areas you are required to keep your dog under close control and some reserves don’t allow dogs at all.
- Clean up your dog mess
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