The New Forest is very popular with wildlife enthusiasts owing to the variety of different species within the National Park, the different habitats here including open heathland, woodland and bogs mean some very rare animals have decided to make the area their home.
The forest’s designation of a royal hunting ground by King William I meant that most of the New Forest was protected from being destroyed by human activity. If you’re looking for a holiday where you can enjoy spectacular walks as well as the opportunity to see some incredible wildlife the New Forest has it all but if you’re very lucky you might be able to spot some very rare species indeed, look out for the following:
One of the UK’s rarest lizards, the Sand Lizard was once nearly extinct here but after many breeding programs, the Sand Lizard can only be found in a few places around Britain. The New Forest is an ideal habitat with vast areas of sandy heathland, the males are easy to spot during breeding season between June and July when there green flanks are a luminous lime green.
Ok so not very rare in the UK but the New Forest is only one of a few places where you can see all five different species of Deer in the UK, the fallow, roe and red deer are very common where the sika and muntjac are rarer. You are almost guaranteed a deer watching experience at the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary but if you’re hoping to enjoy some deer watching whilst out walking it isn’t uncommon to find them if you’re in a quiet area, so keep your eyes peeled.
New Forest Cicada
The elusive New Forest cicada has been named as one of the most endangered animals in Britain, not seen since 2000 it is feared that the insect may already be extinct, however, a team of environmentalists have not given up hope and believe the species may still be out there in the forest somewhere.
The team from The University of Southampton have set up an app allowing visitors to the National Park to help in the search for the rare cicada, similar to giant grasshopper but with wings, the app detects the cicada’s high pitch call and records its location.
Polecat and Pine Martens
Only spotted in recent years in the National Park, polecats have been recorded in greater numbers within a very short time. Normally found in Wales and a close relative to the ferret, the polecat is hard to spot as it is almost exclusively nocturnal.
There are a few confirmed reports of Pine Martens in the New Forest, they are commonly referred to as nocturnal but can be found active in the day especially in the summer months, if you are lucky enough to spot one make sure you report it to New Forest Rangers, as they are keen to see more in the area.
The nightjar is a ground nesting bird; their feathers camouflage the Nightjar to protect them from predators. Only active at night their song said to be eerie but beautiful. Nightjars flock to the UK during the summer months from Africa. As they sleep in their nests on the ground throughout the day, make sure you do not disturb them by keeping to the main paths and keep dogs under control between May and August.
If you’re very lucky you may be able to spot a honey buzzard, there are very few breeding pairs in Britain and they migrate to the UK from Africa only during the summer months. Their nest sites are a closely protected secret to ensure the populations do not diminish anymore but it is possible to see them soaring as they hunt on a clear day.
The Dartford Warbler found in heathland in the South of England and in particular the New Forest. They do not migrate during winter they prefer the warmer winters of southern areas and the constant supply of insects found in the evergreen heathland. Particularly cold winters during the 1960’s left only a few breeding pairs but they have recovered recently due to warm winters and well managed heathland.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast wanting to get a glimpse of a rare animal or for those who enjoying being close to nature we have many cottages offering direct forest access meaning you don’t have to wait to enjoy the New Forest in all its glory. www.newforestcottages.co.uk