Finding wildlife

Wildlife volunteer

The New Forest is a wildlife-rich landscape covering over 200 square miles. Wherever you go you are likely to see many different types of plants, trees, insects and birds.

To see the widest variety of species, you should spend time in different habitats, including coastal locations. Ideally, return at different times of year because many species are seasonal. Some only come out at night and others are best seen early in the morning.

To help you enjoy the wildlife of the area, we have listed below a small selection of places and provided links to other websites where you can get further information.

Our wildlife species pages will also help you learn what to look for. Finally, it’s worth checking if there any events focussing on wildlife.

Crown Land

The central Crown Lands (managed by the Forestry Commission) are wonderful for wildlife. There are huge expanses of open heathland and mires, and both broad-leaved and coniferous woodland. There are many different car parks to choose from, some of which have toilet facilities and waymarked trails.

It is hard to recommend some sites over others, but both the Reptile Centre and Bolderwood are well known for being excellent and during the summer you can often talk with a Ranger or Information Officer at these sites.

Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve

This is a six-mile length of coastal grazing marshes, fresh and saltwater lagoons and saltmarsh - with fabulous views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It is nationally important for its birdlife, plants and insects and worth visiting at any time of year. For further details, including the different access points, visit the Hampshire County Council website.

Lepe Country Park

Managed by Hampshire County Council, Lepe Country Park is part of the North Solent National Nature Reserve. The site is next to the Solent, and has wildflower meadows which attract many species of insects. The nearby river and sea attract many water and song-birds. For details of parking and other facilities, visit:

National Trust Commons

The National Trust protects over 1,330 hectares (3,300 acres) of land in the New Forest – made up of the Commons of Bramshaw, Ibsley, Rockford, High Town, and Hale Purlieu. Those in the north of the Forest are particularly good for heathland and woodland wildlife.

Roydon Woods

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust manages this lovely area of woodland and heath just south of Brockenhurst. For details of parking and waymarked trails visit the Wildlife Trust website. There are also two Wildlife Trust natures reserves just outside the National Park: Blashford and Testwood Lakes which are both worth a visit at any time of year.

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