Lymington-Keyhaven

Further information about Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve on the south coast of the New Forest

This is arguably the best site for birds in the New Forest National Park. Certainly you can expect a wide variety of birds at any time of year (50-70 species) and with repeat visits it’s not hard to find over 100 species during a 12-month period. Habitats include the open sea, mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle, grassland, lagoons, reed beds, scrub and woodland.

Visits are timed to introduce you to the sights and sounds of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The trees, scrub and grassland adjacent to all the starting points usually provide a good selection of ‘garden’ and woodland birds before we venture out onto the sea wall or other footpaths. Once in the open, spring birds could include migrants such as yellow wagtail, wheatear, whinchat, grey plovers in glorious summer plumage and warblers including the lesser whitethroat. In summer, we’ll look for breeding little terns and little ringed plovers, and hope a Dartford warbler perches on top of the gorse. Autumn brings passage curlew sandpipers and little stints and hopefully some less frequent passerines too. In winter the whole area is full of waders, ducks and geese (especially Brent geese).

We walk up to only three miles because it’s easier to hear birds if you stand and listen, and in this environment it often helps to patiently scan for birds with binoculars or a telescope.