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17 September 2014
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Rocky coast | Portland

Portland map

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Portland Bill is Dorset's most southerly point, jutting out nearly six miles into the English Channel.

In spring it's a gateway for thousands of migratory birds. Portland Bill is the first land many birds encounter as they cross the Channel to the UK.

More information on Portland Bill

Rocky coast index (Image: Goonhilly c/o English heritage and Peter Wakely)

Return to rocky coast

Why not get out to our rocky coastlines which are rich in sea birds and wild flowers?

Rocky coast activities (Image: Asparagus Island c/o English Nature)

Rocky coast activities

  • Why not take a few tips from the Nature's Calendar team? Try your hand at bird watching and plant identification.

Portland - Visitor Guide


Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre
The Old Lower Light, Portland Bill, Dorset.

Postcode DT5 2JT

01305 820553

Ordnance survey ref:OS ref SY 676 692
e-mailPortland Bird Observatory -
Detailed map:Portland Bill Observatory map
Key attractions:

Bird spotting. Moth watching.

Essential kit:

Binoculars. Bird and plant identification books.


A wind-proof, light-weight jacket is a good bet. The climate is generally warmer but windier than the rest of Dorset.

Best times:

Bird watching on Portland is good most of the year. In the spring, try sea watching at the Bill.


The best time to see the birds at Portland Bill is early in the morning.

Many birds fly in overnight and rest up early in the morning following their exhausting trip. On good mornings you can see hundreds alight.


Check the wind direction before you leave - easterlies are always a good bet for bird watching.


Natural history bookshop.

The Observatory has hostel-style accommodation for up to 24 guests in the lighthouse and annexe. The adjoining lighthouse-keepers cottage sleeps six.


Keep to marked public footpaths at all times. Visitors are also allowed to roam the Common at Portland Bill and the slopes at the West Cliffs.

Getting there:

Car park at Portland Bill serves the Observatory.

Opening times:Open most days of the year except Christmas.
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