Welcome to BARI – Poole Harbour’s Bird and Recreation Initiative.

Our mission

The Bird and Recreation Initiative’s mission is to protect threatened bird species in Poole Harbour and promote wildlife friendly recreation. Working with residents, recreation communities, charities and land managers to find positive solutions through engagement, infrastructure improvements and monitoring, we aim to deliver projects that protect bird life and in turn enhances Poole Harbour for all.

With more housing comes more people and more pressure on the Special Protected Area (SPA). 


Watch the videos below to find out more about who we are and what we do, and if you have any questions, we would love to hear from you. 


You can also visit the new dedicated BARI website.

Engaging communities & raising awareness

BARI and Dorset Dogs working together

What’s it all about?

The designation ‘Special Protected Area’ or ‘SPA’ is given to places that are home to important numbers of rare or threatened species, and every winter Poole Harbour welcomes over 20,000 of these bird species. They make some epic migrations from places as far as Arctic Siberia and Iceland, and they do so because these breeding grounds get too cold in the winter.

After such amazing migrations the birds are tired and hungry and they must eat and rest to build their strength up, not only to survive the winter, but to make it back to breeding grounds in the spring. Wading birds eat when the tide is low and the mud and sand is exposed, as this is where their food source is.

This means they have a very limited time to eat. If they are disturbed regularly, they can’t eat enough in one day. As Poole Harbour becomes busier it’s harder for birds to feed and rest without being disturbed, as so many people use the coastline.

But there are some simple things we can do to share the coast with these awesome creatures!

Firstly, how to tell if birds are being disturbed:

If they start to call louder to each other – this is an alert to danger.

If they start to walk or swim away from the perceived threat.

If they fly away – this is called ‘flushing’.

SPA Classifications
SPA Classifications

Top Tips on the land:

Look out for the birds. Stay mindful of the wildlife and landscape around you and make a difference by keeping your distance.

Follow signs and avoid walking/running/cycling by the water when you can see birds feeding there.

Do protect flocks of overwintering birds by keeping your dog under close control or use a lead if you know they chase the birds. The birds don’t know the difference between a friendly dog chasing them and a predator that’s going to eat them!

Top tips on the water:

Take a minute before setting up to Look out for the birds, if you see them feeding at the water’s edge, make a difference at a distance and set up further along.

Do Follow the British Canoe and BSUPA Paddlers Codes. Find out about an area before you go, noting its sensitive places, protected areas, species and seasons. Birds feel more threatened in areas not normally visited by people.

Keep to designated launching points and paths, it’s hard to see nature that’s hiding!

SPA Classifications

BARI was established in 2021, is hosted by the Dorset Heaths Partnership on behalf of BCP and Dorset Councils, and is advised by Natural England

Follow BARI

BARI - Contact Us

For project information contact Ria Loveridge using the form below.