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Wading birds

The New Forest is very important for wading birds during their breeding season.

For many years across southern England, the wet and open habitats they need for breeding have been disappearing but in the New Forest, both inland and on the coast, large areas of suitable habitat remain.

Waders nest on the ground and heathland and valley mires with areas of short vegetation and wet ground are essential to their survival.

Because they nest on the ground in the open, breeding waders are very vulnerable to predators such as crows, badgers and foxes that eat the eggs or chicks.

Nests can also fail if the adults are scared off the eggs too frequently – the eggs then get too cold, or the adult birds may simply give up trying to breed in the first instance.

On heaths and wet ground, walkers should therefore keep themselves and their dog to the main tracks when waders are nesting (usually March – July). Keep your dog close to you and visible at all times – if necessary use a lead.

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.'

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