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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Dorset 4 - Durlston Nature Reserve, Swanage: Stonechats and Wheatears. 01.04.22

I travelled to Swanage by the Purbeck Breezer bus from my hotel in Poole

Swanage Bay

Old Harry Rocks from Swanage

I came to Swanage to visit Durlston Country Park and Nature Reserve. See: Durlston Country Park, 2 miles west along the South West Coast path from Swanage

From March to July the cliffs are alive with Seabirds, a magnificent spectacle which can be witnessed from the coast path and through the cliff camera at the Visitor Centre.

The season captures the Guillemot life cycle: nesting, hatching, feeding and the first ventures of the uncertain fledgling

Razorbills and Guillemots launch from the cliff in a blur of whirring wings to search for fish. The Guillemots crowd together on broad ledges half-way up the cliffs, just downstairs from the Razorbills. Gliding Fulmars, Shag and Herring Gulls help fill the space. Very occasionally you may glimpse a Puffin or two. Wildlife & Marine (

I saw no seabirds at all! They were Seabirds the day before. On the day of my visit the council renovated the "Guillemot-Cam", which supplies a live feed to a TV in the visitors centre To do this they had to climb down the cliffs on ropes, which scared all the birds off - temporarily! Still had a good day though!

Durlston is host to over 250 species of bird and is an important resting place for spring and autumn migrants.

Some migrating birds stay a few days, including Redstart, Wheatear, Pied Flycatcher and Sedge Warbler. Occasionally, a rarity like Hoopoe or Golden Oriole may join them.

Other migrants like the Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffcaff nest in the scrub in the summer, exploiting the rich insect life to feed their young. Wildlife & Marine (

I did see Wheatear!

Buds along the "Victorian Trail"

Views from the Victorian Trail

Old Harry Rocks

The Castle and Globe - for the history of Durlston castle see: Visit - History - Introduction (

The glass panels celebrated the seabirds of Durlston; Jackdaws were the only seabird I saw!

Map inside the cliff-top hide; from which no birds were seen!

Where the Guillemots typically are!

A Herring Gull


Wheatear - a recent migrant from Africa, some will send the summer at Durlston; some will stop over on passage to further north

Male Stonechat

Another Wheatear

A Meadow Pipit

Another Stonechat (juvenile male)

A female Stienchat

Another male Stonechat

Conservation grazing cattle

Another male Stonechat!

Another Wheatear

a Dunnock

A Cormorant at sea

A sailing yacht

The lighthousre

Another Stonechat

A class up of the sailing boat above

Anotehr Stonechat

Where there should be seabirds!

A Jackdaw (they were nesting on the cliffs)

Another male Stonechat

A Robin

The steps on the path back to Swanage



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