Heathland birds



The New Forest is a stronghold for hobbies in Hampshire, and the heathlands and wet river valleys of southern England are where the majority of hobbies occur. They are widespread but uncommon in most of England and are mostly absent from Wales and Scotland.


Hobbies prefer to hunt over open, damp ground, especially in spring because their favoured food at that time of year is dragonflies. They are not common in the New Forest and you could see one almost anywhere within or around the National Park. The damp heaths are the most regular hunting ground for them.

Hobbies are summer visitors to the UK, arriving from Africa in May and heading south again in September or October. They are very fast and agile flyers - so much so that they can catch swallows and swifts in flight.

There are no guaranteed places to see a hobby, but your best chance would be to walk slowly around the damp heaths near Beaulieu Road Station in the early evening in May or early June. Hobbies sometimes gather here and several can be seen at the same time on occasions.

ID tip –Hobbies are a bird of prey that look like a huge swift with long scythe-like wings and a fairly short tail. They differ from kestrels in having a dark grey back and from peregrines by having longer and more slender wings.

Photo credit: Anthony Thorpe

  1. Heathland birds
  2. Nightjar
  3. Woodlark
  4. Dartford warbler
  5. Hobby (you are here)
  6. Stonechat
  7. Meadow and tree pipit


Ground nesting birds

Guides and leaflets to rare birds of the forest

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