The New Forest is a great destination for a staycation break to see some of the most vibrant and abundant wildlife the UK has to offer. There are 220 square miles of meadows, heathlands, ancient woods and streams teaming with wildlife.
You can see Fallow, Roe, Red, Sika and Muntjac deer, bats, badgers – even Polecat and Pine Martens. Look out for newts, frogs, toads and 55% of butterflies and moths, 46% of beetles, 74% of dragonflies and damselflies, and 67% of grasshoppers and crickets that are found in Britain live here.
The forest was made a National Park in 2015 and with no ridiculously steep hills to climb, it’s relatively easy going on foot, so it’s a good choice for mixed age groups and abilities. If you’re a keen photographer or would like to be ,why not book yourself on to a course? Try New Forest Wildlife Photography and Steve Hedges Photography. For more specialist subject matters and macro photography take a look at New Forest Dragonflies who offer half and full day courses over the weekend with tips on how to photograph dragonflies and damselflies.
Landscapes are stunning in the New Forest with an abundance of songbirds, birds of prey and swooping bats which make for a thrilling walk at dusk. Book a guided walking tour with Fuzzacker, New Forest Walking Adventures or Wild Heritage who offer walks of varying lengths to find out about the history and heritage of the National Park as well as wildlife and nature.
For a more unusual way to see wildlife, you can explore the River Beaulieu with New Forest Activities in sturdy 2-3 seat Canadian canoe or kayaks. As the river is private and permits are required, it’s never busy so you’ll get plenty of opportunities to get up close – you may get lucky and see the river’s resident seals at play!
The New Forest is designated as a Special Protection Area and a stronghold for a multitude of birds from the ever popular Kingfishers, owls and woodpeckers to the rare woodlark, nightjar, Dartford warbler and honey buzzard. Swirling high above in the skies are majestic birds of prey such as buzzards, goshawks, hobby hawk and hen harriers. You can learn lots more about New Forest birds on a New Forest birdsong and identification field trip with expert Nigel Matthews.
Last but by no means least are the famous 9000 or so free roaming New Forest ponies, donkeys, and cattle who don’t bat an eyelid as you walk past. If you visit between September and November, you are likely to see the ponies joined by hundreds of pigs who are set loose into the forest to forage on green acorns, which can make the ponies, donkeys and cattle ill. These animals are what make this beautiful National Park so special, and although they are owned by the local ‘commoners’, they are all semi-feral and shouldn’t be fed or touched by tourists.
Take a look at our portfolio of New Forest Cottage.