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Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest of eight islands in Poole Harbour, Dorset. The much of the island is a Nature Reserve and an important habitat for birds owned by the National Trust. The island is open to the public, but the trust is able to manage the flow of visitors in the form of boat timetables.

The island was fortified by Henry VIII, and the castle he built became a parliamentary stronghold in the English civil war. The castle was partially demolished after a fire at the end of the 19th century.

The island is one of the few places in south England where red squirrels survive, as grey quirrels have never been introduced to the island. The island contains a variety of habitats, including a saline lagoon, saltmarsh, reedbed, two freshwater lakes, alder carr, pine woodland, deciduous woodland and arboretum, and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

On July 29, 1907 Baden Powell and 22 boys held a Scout camp on the island, and the subsequent publishing of Scouting for Boys started the scouting movement.

In the Second World War lights were placed on the island at night to divert the attention of bombers away from the nearby conurbation of Poole and Bournemouth, army camps on the Purbecks and the important naval base on the Isle of Portland. There are many bomb craters on the island which are havens for rare wildlife.

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