This unique area containing a wealth of habitats is home to many species of New Forest birds – lowland heath, deciduous woodland, conifer plantations, mires and salt marshes. As a consequence a huge variety of New Forest bird species can be found all year round and birdsong echoes around, particularly in the Spring and Summer.
The New Forest is a stronghold for the rare Dartford Warbler (known in the Forest as a Fuzzacker) which is resident on the open heaths. Wading birds such as Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing can be found around the Forest mires and also by the coast. Several species of raptor are found here, with Buzzards a common sight soaring high on the thermals and Goshawks breeding in increasing numbers. Crossbills, Goldcrests and the rarer Firecrest can be spotted in the coniferous woods but, perhaps the strangest bird call in the Forest is that of the nocturnal Nightjar which you may hear on a summer evening walk.
Many of the species found in the New Forest are on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List which means their survival is critically endangered and regretably, more species in the UK are being added to the Red List as a result of habitat loss and/or human disturbance. Much work is done in the New Forest to conserve habitats but, unfortunately there is increasing pressure from humans either by accident or ignorance!
GROUND NESTING BIRDS
The New Forest is home to a range of special birds which nest on the ground. These ground nesting birds lay their eggs and raise their young on the heaths and mire areas which makes them more vulnerable to disturbance than those who nest in trees. Disturbance causes eggs to chill, be abandoned or be taken by predators. These ground nesting birds are vulnerable between 1st March and 31st July. Everyone one can help stop the decline in many of these species by keeping to the main tracks. Unfortunately, dogs are seen flushing out birds in these areas all too often – this is in their nature so please keep them under control in these sensitive areas. Move away quickly if you see disturbed or distressed parent birds and encourage others to do the same. In this way future generations will be able to enjoy them and their song.
The video, “Under your Feet!”, provides further information on ground nesting birds.
The following is a small selection of New Forest Birds – residents and seasonal visitors.