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Lymington & Keyhaven Marshes

Posted: Wednesday 23rd December 2015 by ASpecialPlaceEachWeek

© Hayley Muir

A beautiful place for a winter walk and ideal for spotting overwintering wildfowl and waders

Lying within the New Forest National Park, Lymington and Keyhaven is a particularly spectacular place to walk and see the wide range of wintering wildfowl and waders that visit Western Europe each winter. They come here from the north and east attracted by the ice free waters, saltmarshes and mudflats. 

The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust managed saltmarshes and food-rich mudflats along with the Hampshire County Council Nature Reserve, protect an extensive area of costal habitat with a number of attractive walks. You can walk along the elevated seawall path which gives views inland over grazed wet grasslands and sheltered brackish lagoons, all fantastic wintering habitat for flocks of birds.

The lagoons attract many duck species, especially wigeon, teal, pintail, shoveler and shelduck. Flocks of brent geese commute between them and the nearby fields where they feed on the grass. The ducks mostly come to us after nesting in eastern Europe, but the brent geese travel from the Arctic Ocean coast of Siberia, coming some 5000 kilometres cutting over Finland and around the southern shore of the Baltic Sea on their way.

Even better, the birds are well-used to many people walking by, and they’ve learnt that deep mud and wet ditches mean that people and their dogs rarely stray from the paths. This means that it is possible to get close views of lots of species without disturbing them.

Year round, the fish in the waters make this a haven for numerous birds including Sandwich and Little Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Cormorants, Redshank and Oystercatcher. 

For botanists, the local specialist salt-tolerant plants to look out for among the shingle banks include the Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Campion and Sea Aster. 

To find out how to visit this special place, click here.


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