Skip to main content
close x

Key To Map

Choose the categories you would like to display on the map.

Choose the categories to be display on the map



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.

Photo credit: Anthony Thorpe

ID Tip

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.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of August.'

Newsletter Image





Six free walking routes when you sign up for New Forest Newsletter

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

By entering your email below you are consenting to us sending you newsletters. To unsubscribe, email More info:

I think you mistyped your email
Your interests (tick at least one)

Please select one

By signing up to this form you are consenting to receive emails from us. Each email will contain a link to your personal reference settings where you can opt-out or change which emails you receive from us. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use data.

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

Thanks, your subscription has been confirmed. You've been added to our list and your New Forest walking pack is on its way to you, including a link to download our free app.