7 places to go birdwatching in Hampshire
- Credit: Unsplash/Hans Veth
Get your binoculars out and see what birds you can discover in these gorgeous locations
Blackwater Arboretum, Brockenhurst
This forest has trees from around the world, making marvellous nesting points for a wide variety of birds. Species include the colourful firecrest, the shy hawfinch, the UK’s only endemic bird the crossbill, and treecreepers. There are two walking routes (including a sensory sculpture trail) and a cycling path, which make it easy to wander around and follow the sound of birdsong.
Beacon Hill, Burghclere
Well known as one of the best hill forts in England, Beacon Hill was historically used for defence and communication. Now it's popular for hiking, and the chalk grasslands are rich in wildlife to admire, such as flowers like the rock rose and Osmia bicolour bees. Majestic red kites have been seen soaring across the area, as well as brightly coloured yellowhammers, hoppy fieldfares and chirpy woodlarks. Picnic tables are scattered around the area, perfect for sitting down, enjoying some lunch and taking in the scenery.
Crab Wood, Sparsholt
Ancient coppiced trees lace this remarkable woodland, which is filled with bluebells in spring and attracts butterflies through the warmer months. Glossy black-capped marsh tits and the sweet brown treecreeper can often be spotted, and have been known to nest here too. Families will enjoy following the story trail about the hermit, which aims to inform little ones about the nature in the woods.
The Kench, Hayling Island
Stunning views of the Langstone Harbour, and sandy coastal walks make this a lovely spot for meandering. The nature reserve’s waters attract a variety of birds, such as the great northern diver - the largest diving bird in the UK. Oystercatchers also roam the waters, and are rather penguin-like in their colouring, and actually eat more cockles and mussels than they do oysters. Noisy greenshanks and redshanks can also be seen in the area.
Botley Wood, Fareham
More than 100 hectares of woodland at Botley are filled with creatures that love habituating in the plantation stands of conifer. Nutcatches only have one species in the UK, and have been known to grace the woods with their splendid colours and loud birdsong. Another colourful bird, bullfinch, can be easily identified by its peachy stomach. The smallest bird in the UK, goldcrests, also enjoy the delights of the woods.
Ashford Hangers, Petersfield
The scenery at Ashford Hangers has attracted poets such Edward Thomas and the nickname ‘Little Switzerland’ due to its remarkable trees and winding walking routes. The aerobatic hobby birds, which are birds of prey, often swoop around the woodland with their narrow wings. Tree pipits blend into the shrubbery with their petite stature and brown spotted bodies. House martins have also be known to visit, and can be spotted by their jewel-like blue backs.
Broxhead Common, Bordon
The oak and birch trees look remarkable scattered across the area, but many of the birds that arrive here are ground-nesting and use the heather for cover. Birds that have been seen nesting include the Dartford warbler, identified by its distinctive red-eye ring. Worshipped by ancient Egyptians and featured in much of their artwork, Egyptian geese also frequent the area. If walking in the area be careful as the nests can be near paths, and if you bring a dog make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t disturb the birds.