Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve

Hengistbury Head is a narrow stretch of land – some 142 hectares in area – running between Christchurch Harbour & the English Channel. It has a variety habitats including dunes, salt marsh, reed beds, grassland, water meadow, woods, heath and ponds.

Rich in wildlife it is home to about a quarter of Britain’s flowering plant species; almost a third of its moths and is noted for its many bird species.  In 2017 a Hengistbury Head Dragonfly survey recorded 16 species of Dragonfly present. Of these, 13 were found to be breeding on site.

Hengistbury Head forms part of Christchurch Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is protected by law to conserve its wildlife.

The headland is a popular destination for local day trippers and nature lovers alike and welcomes around one million human visitors each year. It is administered by Bournemouth, Poole & Christchurch Council.

Opening times, entry costs, facilities and directions

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Things to see

Hengistbury Head Nature reserve occupies a relatively exposed coastal site and is sometimes subject to strong winds. This means that dragonflies and damselflies are most easily seen flying on calm (and sunny) days.

Lily Pond and Quarry Pond are two bodies of freshwater offering good Dragonfly-viewing opportunities to independent visitors.

There is also a small raised pond in the Visitor Centre’s sheltered wildlife garden. Here you might see small numbers of damselflies and dragonflies breeding, egg laying or emerging.

Pond dipping sessions are available during the year but must be pre booked.

Local BDS outreach volunteers plan to offer pre-booked Dragonfly walks and talks to the public in future Dragonfly seasons.

Schools session are available


Top species

Small Red Damselfly

A nationally scarce species.

Main flight period is May to September.

Can be distinguished from Large Red by its red legs and wing spots.

Image by Steve Plume



Seasonal Highlights

Look out for basking Black-tailed Skimmers on Quarry Pond steps!

Watch Four-spotted Chasers launch themselves at passing prey from a favorite pond-side perch!

Will you be lucky and spy the locally scarce Small Red Damselfly?


Images by Wellington College

Contact Information

Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre
Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve

T: 01202 451618

Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve