Birdwatching in the New Forest

The New Forest landscape is perfect for birds. The habitat is broad ranging and spans ancient forest, conifer plantations, broad heathland, coastal tidal marshes, rivers, ponds and streams. It is 300km square without a major motorway. All of it is protected and whilst dogs are encouraged for off lead walks, this National Park, compared to many, is well set up for educating tourists and locals to minimise bird disruption.

This list is very incomplete! It’s a starter rather than a destination. The Red Breasted Merganser isn’t on the list below. Nor that of many local websites. But you can see them from Pitts Deep Cottage beach (read more on staying at the house here).

Peregrine Falcons live on the Lymington Sea Wall defences in summer. Coastguards Cottage in Keyhaven, and Gins Barn on the Beaulieu River are superb houses for birders.

Here is our guide for what to look for and where:

Greater Spotted Woodpecker – the forest here is their most important habitat in the UK – late winter/early spring, ancient oaks, alders and birches.

Hawfinch – head to Blackwater Arboretum.

Wood Warbler – Boldrewood – but a rare sighting.

Other common breeding species of the woodlands and woodland edges include Marsh Tit, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Siskin.

Honey Buzzard – mid May to mid June, Goshawk – head to areas of thick forest.

Hobbies – summer – rare – boggy areas

Peregrine Falcon – the Solent Walk coastal path – they nest on the sea defence walls in summer.

Bramblings, Redpolls – winter visitors – areas of alders.

Teal – bogs and mires.

Goosanders enjoy the New Forest ponds.

Other winter visitors include The Great Grey Shrike might be seen at Bishop’s Dyke or Holm Hill. Possibly Hen Harriers will over-winter in low numbers.

On the heath areas in winter, look for Wheatears, Whinchat, Pied Flycatchers are regulars.

In late autumn, Ring Ouzels can be seen at Leadenhall.

In Summer Nightjars, Dartford Warbler and Woodlarks are relatively easy to find if you know where (see below).

For more information we would send you to the excellent website on the Hampshire Ornithological Society’s website. Visit them here. 

They have a really good guide on where to walk with 8 areas covered.

Our favourite is Beaulieu Road and heading out on a summer evening to listen to Nightjars. Or head to Denny Wood and see if you can find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

For more help bird spotting we strongly suggest that you contact the photographer who has kindly shared all these photographs with us. Henry Szwinto is well regarded, reasonably priced and dedicated in this knowledge of the local birds here. Read more about Henry on our blog here. 


Pennington Marshes

Lapwing at Pennington Marshes


Barn Owl


Pennington Marshes