Home About the Stream The Partnership The Projects Research & Data News Archive Maps Links  Contact Us

About the Bourne Stream

 About the Stream



 Bourne Valley SSSI

 Bourne Valley LNR

 Alder Hills LNR

 Did You Know?


The Bourne Valley is renowned for its wildlife, with all six British reptile species to be found at the SSSI

Cetti's Warbler

The rarely seen Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) has made an unexpected visit to the new lagoons and wetlands at Alderney, but has only so far been heard!  Will it nest here?  We are keenly listening and watching and will bring news when we have it.

This is a Mediterranean species which has steadily spread through France and was first seen in England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in the 1960s. It suffers during prolonged, severe winters and the population in Kent declined dramatically after the cold winters in 1984/5 and 1985/6.

A small brown, insect-eating bird, it is best located by its loud, explosive and far-reaching song which is usually given from deep within a bush or other scrubby vegetation, close to water. The Cetti's Warbler is unique among British songbirds-it has only ten tail feathers and it lays bright red eggs.

There have been other Dorset sightings in recent years at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor.

Source: http://www.notts-rspb.org.uk

A refuge for Water Voles

The Bourne Stream is a refuge for the Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris).  This is a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species which means it is receiving priority action on a national level in order to reverse its rapid population decline over recent years - brought about through habitat destruction and the spread of the American Mink throughout England. 

The area around Alder Hills Road is particularly good for Water Voles who are dependent on long grass and in-channel vegetation for their survival. 

In 2005 there were confirmed sightings at Bourne Pools, where the concrete channel had recently been removed and gentler slopes left to develop undisturbed bankside vegetation.

Water Voles are quite docile creatures who are out of their burrows both day and night, so if you sit by the river quietly you may hear a loud ‘plop’ as one dives into the water, or see one chomping its way through vegetation. 

They are not to be mistaken for rats which are also present on the stream. Rats are a similar size to Water Voles but have large ears and pointy faces. 

Dorset Wildlife Trust carry out Water Vole surveys every five years to take a 'snapshot' of the status of this mammal in the county.

Beetling along the Bourne stream…

A rare iridescent green aquatic beetle Donacia bicolora was surveyed in 2001 and is still present on the Bourne Valley SSSI.

The species has its own national Species Action Plan and is very rare across southern England.

It lives on branched bur reed where its larvae live in the roots and the adults on the plants above water. There are only two tiny areas of the plant remaining in the stream.

In 2003 work was carried out by Borough of Poole Countryside Services (funded by English Nature) to increase the bur reed and its beetle population in the valley.

Ruddy Darters

There are several species of dragonflies and damselflies to be found on and around the Bourne Stream. 

The reed pond at Bourne Valley Park has probably the strongest population of Ruddy Darters in Poole.

The Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) can be seen in Coy Pond Gardens, most noticeably since the improvements made to the stream there.

Summer habitat comprises fresh flowing water (river and streams) neighbouring woodland or scrub and waterside shingle or rocks.  In winter they move out of upland areas to more lowland rivers and streams. 

They are badly effected by harsh winters, and because of recent moderate declines it is an Amber List species.

The White-Legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) was spotted and snapped by Bournemouth University student Robert Aquilina during his study of the created wetlands at Alderney, where it is breeding.

White-legged Damselfly (click to enlarge)

Quite rare nationally, though locally abundant on rivers and canals in southern England, this species seeks out a muddy substrate abundant in marginal vegetation, but is sensitive to pollution.


Male Sand Lizard  (c) HCT Sand Lizard Lacerta Agilis

Due to vast habitat loss the Sand Lizard now only occurs naturally in Surrey, Dorset and Hampshire where it lives on sandy heathland, and further north in Merseyside where it is confined to coastal sand dune systems.

The species has now been re-introduced to other sites in these counties and also, to restore its range, to sites in North Wales, Devon and Cornwall and West Sussex. 

The Sand Lizard lays eggs in late May or early June, these hatch between August and early October. The eggs are left buried in sand exposed to the sun which helps to keep them warm; this is why the species is confined to sandy habitats.

Smooth Snake  (c) HCT Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca

The Smooth Snake is Britain’s rarest reptile and is found on heathlands in Dorset and Hampshire and on one or two heaths in Surrey and West Sussex. 

There are old records from heaths in adjacent counties.  Many of the sites on which it occurs are also inhabited by the Sand Lizard.  

It is non-venomous and feeds mainly on lizards and small mammals.  Live young, which look very similar to the adults, are born in September.  

It is a secretive animal and when it basks in the sun it does so entwined amongst the stems of heather plants where it is superbly camouflaged.

Both species are protected nationally under Schedule 2 of the Conservation Act 1994; they are also internationally protected under the Council of Europe's Convention on European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Bern Convention) of 1979 and under the European Union's Habitats and Species Directive of 1992.

Because these species are so rare it an offence to:

  • kill, injure or capture them;

  • disturb them in any way;

  • damage or destroy their habitat.

It is also an offence to possess, sell or trade Sand Lizards in any way.

Caring for Wildlife in Poole

Poole's Nature Conservation Strategy is available in all Poole libraries, or contact:

Poole Nature Conservation Forum

c/o Borough of Poole Leisure Services

Northmead House, 30-32 Northmead Drive,

Creekmoor, Poole BH17 7RP.

Tel: 01202 265265

Local Wildlife Hospitals

Dorset Wildlife Rescue

Cares for all wildlife

Location: Poole

Tel: 01202 246555

Mob: 07780 997881

Care Rehab and Aid for Sick Hedgehogs

Cares for Hedgehogs

Location: Poole

Tel: 01202 699358.

Swan Rescue Sanctuary

Cares for Swans

Location: Wimborne

Tel: 01202 828166


About the Stream • The Partnership • The Projects • Research & Data • News Archive • Maps • Links • Contact Us

Borough of Poole | Bournemouth Borough Council | Environment Agency | Sembcorp Bournemouth Water | Wessex Water Natural England | Bournemouth University | Greenlink | Bournemouth Oceanarium | Dorset Wildlife Trust | Dorset Coast Forum

Copyright © 2000-2012 Bourne Stream Partnership.  All rights reserved.


Disclaimer and copyright