Seasonal visits to Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve

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. Habitats include the open sea, mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle, grassland, lagoons, reed beds, scrub and woodland.

This rolling series of visits is designed 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 provides a good selection of relatively ‘common-or-garden’ birds to start with before we venture out onto the sea wall or other footpaths. Once out 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).

Except in mid-winter when dawn is not till 8am, we start at 7am. 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. There will be ample opportunity to test your knowledge, ask questions and talk about the ways of remembering what we have learned.

The sessions are on Saturday mornings. Dates, times and the part of the reserve on which we will focus are as follows:

  • Saturday 15 September 2018, 7-10am (Pennington Marshes)
  • Saturday 3 November 2018, 8-11am (Keyhaven)
  • Saturday 8 December 2018, 8-11am (Normandy Lagoon)
  • Saturday 9 March 2019, 7-10am (Pennington Marshes)
  • Saturday 25 May 2019, 7-10am (Keyhaven)
  • Saturday 29 June 2019, 7-10am (Normandy Lagoon)
  • Saturday 10 August 2019, 7-10am (Pennington Marshes)

For directions to the starting points, download the Lymington-Keyhaven parking instructions. Booking instructions are here.

Note that sessions between January and July also form part of the annual Birds in Spring course.