Wildlife on offer in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
PUBLISHED: 16:47 16 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:49 16 April 2014
Get to know some of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s friendly dwellers on a trip to one of the Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves
Good for: bird watching
Blashford Lakes is a series of former gravel pits surrounded by grassland and willow, birch and alder woodland. The Dockens Water stream flows through the reserve and it is bounded by ancient woodlands of oak and beech. There are many bird hides dotted throughout and, during the summer, the likes of woodpeckers, nuthatches, warblers and blackcaps can be spotted amongst the trees. Out on the lakes breeding waders including redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher and little ringed plover, as well as common terns (on rafts in Ivy Lake) and black-headed gulls can be seen. Keep an eye out for grass snakes basking on the paths and in the ponds and lakes as you make your way around the rolled gravel pathways.
Blashford Lakes is two miles north of Ringwood on the A338. Turn right onto Ellingham Drove and the reserve entrance is after 500 yards with the main car park to the left and the Education Centre to the right.
Good for spotting rare species
Roydon Woods covers 950 acres within the New Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). The combination of a wide range of woodland habitats and associated plant communities gives rise to a rich diversity of plant and animal species, making this reserve a really exciting place to visit. Wander amongst the un-grazed ancient woodland and keep an eye out for some of its inhabitants including foxes, badgers, wood mice, bank voles, hedgehogs, moles, stoats and weasels. The old meadows are rich in flowering plants which support a whole host of butterflies during the summer months - if you’re lucky you may spot a rare White Admiral or the Silver-studded Blue. Bird life is abundant in summer with Tawny Owls, Nigh Jars and Chiffchaffs being spotted amongst the tree canopy. And with over 350 different species of flowering plant, some of which are very rare, you can have a great day out spotting some of the Forest’s rich wildlife.
Roydon Woods is 1¼ miles south east of Brockenhurst (the main entrance is at Setley, map ref SU 306004). There is limited car parking at the Royden Crossroads (SZ 318994) and beside Church Lane at SU 307315 from where bridleways lead into the reserve.
Good for stunning views
Arreton Down is part of the main chalk ridge which runs across the Isle of Wight from east to west. It consists of grassland, with some scrub edges and contains several archaeological features. There are extensive views across the Island from the higher parts of the down, making it the perfect place for a stroll on your holiday. The down is notified as a SSSI as it supports two important species: The great green bush crickets, which are often found in summer clambering around in the scrub grassland margins - the males can also be heard in the evenings making a loud harsh song; and the bastard toadflax, a low growing, yellow/green, semi parasitic plant which scrambles through the chalk loving sward with small, white, five-petalled flowers.
Take the Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferry, then, from Newport, take the A3020 towards Sandown. At Blackwater, follow the A3056 into Arreton village, past Arreton Cross. At the White Lion Pub (PO30 3AA), turn left into the village car park. The footpath to the reserve heads north, taking you past the church.
Good for seeing red squirrels
Planted in the 1950’s on heathland and pasture, Bouldnor Forest is a large plantation of conifers and broadleaved trees on the north-west coast of the Isle of Wight. The forest provides a home for a variety of wildlife including bats, birds, such as long-eared owls and of course, the nationally rare red squirrel. With its beautiful views out over the Solent and The New Forest, Bouldnor is the ideal place to while away a few hours in the sun. As well as red squirrels, keep and eye out for lizards and grass snakes, newts in the ponds and Nightjars and Crossbills.
Take the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry then, from Yarmouth, take the A3054 towards Newport for ½ km. The car park is on the left.
Events in the New Forest and Isle of Wight this summer
Easter Nature Trail - April 18, 11am-3pm
Drop in any time during the session to discover spring wildlife on a family trail around Blashford Lakes and complete the challenge for a fairtrade chocolate reward. Children must be accompanied by adults. To book contact Jim Day or Michelle Crooks on 01425 472760 or e-mail email@example.com. Suggested donation £2 per person. Sorry, no dogs
Bird Song for Beginners - May 6, 7.30-9am
Join Reserve Officer Ed Bennett for an early morning walk to tune in to the songs of our woodland birds and learn to recognise some of the more distinctive calls. Meet and park at the Blashford Lakes Centre. To book, contact Jim Day or Michelle Crooks on 01425 472760 or e-mail BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk. Children must be accompanied by adults. Suggested donation £3 per person. Sorry, no dogs.
Bouldnor Toddle - May 14, 10.30am
Explore the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of Bouldnor Forest with a safari for the under-fives and parents. All children must be accompanied by adults. Maximum of three children per adult. For further details and to book contact IOW Office on 01983 760016. Suggested donation £2 per family. Sorry, no dogs.
Roydon Woods Wood Fair and Local Produce Market - June 8, 11am-4pm
The Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority is hosting the 7th wood fair and local produce market at Roydon Woods Nature Reserve off Sandy Down, Setley, near Brockenhurst. Locally produced food and woodland products will be for sale and there will be plenty of opportunities to have a go at woodland crafts. Lots of craft will be on sale and a wide variety of children’s activities will be laid on. Roydon Woods Reserve (Map ref. SZ 315 997). Contact John Durnell on 01489 774425 or Martin Boxall on 07970 564525. Plenty of parking available. No charge.
Butterflies of Arreton Down - July 19, 2pm
A guided walk across Arreton Down looking at species-rich chalk grassland and butterfly and invertebrate species that can be found there. Meet at Arreton Community Car Park, next to the White Lion pub (Map ref. SZ 534 867). Contact IOW Office on 01983 760018. Suggested donation £2. Dogs on leads welcome.