Portland Bird Observatory (Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre)
Reserve Name Portland Bird Observatory
Managing Authority Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre
The Old Lower Light
Dorset DT5 2JT
Parking & Toilet Provision
Description of Habitat & Facilities
Portland & Environs
Brilliant & varied birdwatching packed into a relatively small area, Weymouth Council have put quite some effort into providing accessible facilities. Check out their web site:www.weymouth.gov.uk/ for a brilliant set of pages entitled: a guide to Weymouth & Portland for visitors with special needs. This lists among other things car parking & toilet facilities (mostly RADAR), access details for tourist attractions in the area, shopping & banking details, as well as suitable accommodation. You can ring for an access booklet (brilliant!). More local authorities should do this sort of thing. Do double check the information provided as I have noticed some inaccuracies.
This area is also good if you can only birdwatch by public transport. You can reach Weymouth by train (Radipole RSPB reserve is only a 5 minute walk away!) Buses go to Radipole, Portland (the Bill only in season) & the village of Abbotsbury (daily in season). Please note that parking in the Weymouth & Portland area is almost exclusively paying & starts early in the day, so don’t get caught out! (Blue badge holders free), you can get a weekly ticket, and you can get a discounted ticket when visiting Radipole from the RSPB visitor centre. If staying in Weymouth, taxis are quite cheap to get around. Contact: Weymouth Tourist Information Centre, Kings Statue, Esplanade, Weymouth – Tel: 01305 785747
Although Portland does not have specific reserves, it is renowned for birdwatching particularly during migration time; it is also very good for sea watching.
Portland Bill For sea watching, wheelchair users can take the path adjacent to the lighthouse to get very close to the Bill, big flat rocks provide adequate seating! Parts of the area around the Bill can be accessed. A lot of it is open access, it is reasonably flat and the paths are quite good especially in dry conditions, but wheelchair users will probably have to retrace their “steps”. If you don’t want to go far you can do small circular routes to view some of the interesting habitats. Try going early and avoid weekends. On one visit we saw a flock of 50 or so White Wagtails on the Common next to the car park. You can watch migration as it happens, one morning we sat by the Bill, not a seabird in sight, but passing constantly over us were small groups of passerines flying off to sea. We marvelled at their audacity. There is a large car park with a disabled toilet.
The Weymouth web pages give a list of viewpoints around Portland that are accessible. One area of note, is the large parking area (no facilities) behind the Portland Heights Hotel, This gives panoramic views over Chesil Bank, Lyme Bay and Portland Harbour. A good stopping point on the way to and from the Bill, migration can be visible, on our last visit we watched from above a pair of Kestrels with 2 juveniles hunting and trying without much success to avoid the unwelcome attentions of crows!
Description of Trails
Number of Hides
Description of Hides [By name or number]
Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve
Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve Situated off the Chesil Beach Road, on the way to Portland, just past Ferrybridge. There is ample car parking and a disabled toilet as well as a cafe (where Starlings do their best to charm you out of your lunch). Go when the tide is coming in as this site is good for waders, Little Egrets and wintering birds. I always stop off there on my way to and from Portland. Wheelchair users will be confined to the car park but the visitor centre has accessible viewing facilities, and when closed you can easily view from beside the centre, for those who can walk a short distance, it is worth crossing the very busy road to view Portland Harbour. Trying to walk on Chesil Beach is a nightmare.
Contact: The Warden, Royal Manor of Portland, Chesil Beach Centre, Portland Beach Road, Portland, Dorset DT4 9X4 – Tel: 01305 760579
Date Last Updated