I arrived at Bourne Valley nature reserve expecting another example of heathland that was spared during the expansion of Bournemouth and Poole after the war. To an extent that is what I found with quite a large area to the south of the reserve, known locally as Talbot Heath, being dry gorse and heather on quite steep slopes. However, I quickly discovered Bourne Valley is much more than that.
As its name implies a bourne, or small river, runs through the reserve and the reserve itself runs along about four miles of this stream; too much for me to cover in one visit so my species list will not reflect the full extent of what can be seen here until I am able to get back there to look further north.
In addition to the heath you will fine streamside wooded vegetation, some attractive woodland (predominanly oak and silver birch), an area of grassland with chalk influences and some wild scrub along the valley bottom. These diverse habitats make for a wide diversity of species which, as I said above, I have hardly started to record.
I had low expectations of these reserves in Poole and Bournemouth that are surrounded by housing but Bourne Valley is yet another that raised my hopes for the future. Much work is being done to protect them and from what I saw the local people seem to respect what they have here.