New Forest
 - Explorers
New Forest
Explorers Guide
days out in the New Forest composite image
Pony near Hampton Ridge
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
***** Coronavirus - for information about New Forest access restrictions and related matters, check out the Forestry England website and the websites of the individual venues you wish to visit. *****

New Forest 'Date with Nature' - 2020

A sparrowhawk enjoys a meal -<br />
 an unfortunate wood pigeon caught unawares
A sparrowhawk enjoys a meal -
an unfortunate wood pigeon caught unawares

In most years, often at weekends and during school holidays from early April until the end of summer, New Forest visitors are able to get a privileged peek into the wilder side of New Forest life.

*** In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in changed arrangements. Check out the links at the top of the page for up-to-date information. ***

Ever wondered what's hiding just out of view in and above this spectacular forest? Have you heard mewing cries in the sky, spotted the speedy dash of a bird hunting along a hedgerow or watched a silhouette hovering on the skyline and wanted to find out what it is?

If so, why not visit the New Forest 'Date with Nature' to find out more about our brilliant birds of prey, from mewing buzzards, speedy goshawks and dashing hobbies, and much, much more?

As part of an on-going partnership between the RSPB, Forestry Commission and New Forest National Park Authority, nestcams let you witness the family life of these secretive species, up close and personal, from egg to first flight. Each year brings new surprises and species, and a team of volunteers are on hand to teach you all about bird behaviour.

There is also an interactive touchscreen which is perfect for children (and even adults) who want to know more about the species that call the New Forest home.

And nearby, there are miles of nature trails to explore too, so keep your eyes peeled for various species of deer, grey squirrels and, of course, New Forest ponies as you wander the site.

Or maybe stop for a picnic near the bird feeders, and marvel at the flashes of colour as tiny birds come searching for treats.

Knowledgeable volunteers can also tell you all about the birds of prey, lapwings, curlews, nightjars, snipe, skylarks, woodlarks and many more wild birds that live safely within the protection of the New Forest National Park.

Entry to free, but donations for parking are welcome.

(Goshawk eggs are usually laid at the beginning of April, with chicks likely to appear in May. Numbers of these relatively rare birds have been building steadily in the New Forest - they have increased from just one pair in 2002 to about 40 pairs in more recent years).

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New Forest seasonal highlights
Sika deer continue to engage in rutting behaviour, and will do so until December.
Pigs seek out the remains of the acorn crop.
Beech leaves
are transformed into a magnificent mosaic of glorious reds and golds. Other deciduous trees, too, take on an autumnal cloak before their leaves fall.
Dragonflies can occasionally be seen on the wing on bright days early in the month.

Foxglove leaves survive the winter at ground level, and offer the prospect of colourful summer blooms to come.
Redwings and fieldfares, autumn and winter visitors, gorge on haws and holly berries.
Great grey shrikes and hen harriers hunt over the heaths and other open spaces.
Honeysuckle by the end of the month often shows welcome signs of new growth.
** New Forest ponies and other animals**
The New Forest
Commoners' ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during 2019 agisters attended 159 road traffic accidents involving these animals, a small but disappointing increase on the 154 accidents attended in 2018.

Sadly, 58 animals were killed - 35 ponies, 13 cows, 8 donkeys and 2 sheep, whilst a further 32 were injured - 3 pigs, 9 donkeys, 11 cows and 9 ponies.

(Forty-three accidents occurred in daylight, 15 at twilight and 101 in the dark. Twenty-seven accidents were not reported by the driver involved).
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley