The Observatory at Keyhaven

A ranger at The Observatory on Keyhaven Marshes

With the start of the ground nesting bird season, New Forest National Park Authority and Hampshire County Council Rangers will be hosting coffee mornings with a twist this spring.

The Observatory at Keyhaven, near Lymington, has been the base for a number of resident artists since its installation last year. Now walkers enjoying the sea wall are being invited to join rangers in this unique location for a coffee, chat and the chance to learn more about the wide variety of birds.

Rangers will have all the equipment needed to aid discovery; telescopes, bird models and a bird call sound box – plus they’ll be providing some welcome hot drinks for those braving the sea breeze in spring.

New Forest National Park and Hampshire County Council Rangers will be talking with people about the bird populations found here and in the wider Forest. Many of the species that can be seen are vulnerable to disturbance especially when nesting. The Rangers will be able to offer advice on how people can continue to enjoy the benefits of getting outdoors whilst still allowing the wildlife to thrive.

Nigel Matthews, head of recreation management and learning at New Forest National Park said: “The New Forest has one of the largest remaining areas of lowland heath in Europe and some fantastic coastal habitats. It is particularly important for birds which have adapted to nest on the ground and this coastal nature reserve is the best place to see feeding and roosting curlews, redshanks and lapwings. These species head inland to the heaths to breed so this is a great opportunity to learn about them before they go.”

Recent surveys show that the Forest continues to be a stronghold for rare species such as the Dartford Warbler. However, populations of curlew and lapwing are not as large as they were 10 years ago.

Rangers will be at The Observatory for four consecutive Wednesdays starting from 10am Wednesday 16 March until Wednesday 6 April, and also on two Thursdays 17 and 24 March. This includes the Easter holidays. Everyone is welcome.

Other events include a Discovery Day about New Forest Birds on Tuesday 29 March 10am-4pm at The New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, and a Doggy Fun Day organised for Saturday 9 April at Lepe County Park from 10am-3pm.

For more information and further events visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/events.

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