New Forest Flora & Fauna
With ancient woodlands, open heathland and even a coastline, there’s an abundance of flora and fauna here in the New Forest.
The New Forest is a thriving habitat for nature and wildlife including deer, beautiful bluebells and even fungi. Did you know that there are around 70,000 species of fungi worldwide with around 2,700 of those found within the New Forest National Park alone? Also, in the forest ecosystem there are over 1,000 species of insects and creatures dependant on the fungi making this particular ecosystem crucial to the overall wellbeing of the New Forest.
Conservation is a vital aspect for keeping The New Forest a beautiful haven for its wildlife whilst also being an Area of Outstanding Neutral Beauty for visitors to enjoy and of course, a National Park.
Summer in the New Forest
With the trees in full leaf by the summer, look out for some of the New Forest’s Orchids. The National Park is home to fifteen species of wild Orchid including the pretty Heath-Spotted Orchid and Britain’s smallest wild orchid, the Bog Orchid. Although some of them bloom earlier and later in the year, a particularly good time to spot them is around June.
In the forest inclosures look out for several species of butterfly including Ringlet and Silver Washed Fritillary whereas other butterfly such as Silver Studded Blue and Dark Green Fritillary prefer the heathland.
The heather blooms in late summer offering a carpet of purple across the heathland. It is also an attractive nectar source for bees. There are four different types of heather that grow on the New Forest; Ling, Bell Heather, the Cross-Leaved Heath and the rare Dorset heath.
The summer is a busy time for the birds and you can often hear the forest in song from a variety of species. Species to look out for in the summer include Wood Warbler and Redstart.
Autumn in the New Forest
The New Forest comes alive with rich reds and golden hues under the autumn canopy making it the perfect excuse to come and explore what this beautiful seasonal show can offer.
Each year the deciduous trees and shrubs that fill the ancient woodland in the New Forest begin a transition from summer into autumn, the leaves begin to change colour from vibrant greens into coppers and intense reds. The best conditions for the most diverse colourations is when the days in autumn are full of sunlight and cool in temperature, the nights however need to be chilly as it is important for the pigmentation changes in the leaves.
Autumn is the time when the woodland floor comes alive with fungi. You will find over 2,000 varieties of mushroom, toadstool and fungus on display in the forest with a wide-range of colours and shapes.
Winter in the New Forest
Winter is a particularly important time for many wetland species of bird as they head to Keyhaven Marshes or to Blashford Lakes.
Woodpeckers including great spotted, lesser spotted and green, Nuthatches, Treecreepers and Hawfinches are year-round residents of the National Park and with the leaves falling from many of the trees, winter can be an ideal time to spot them.
Spring in the New Forest
Springtime is a perfect opportunity for people to enjoy the ancient woodlands in all their flowering beauty. With beautiful native bluebells blooming in May and baby animals being born, the forest becomes a haven for new beginnings.
Famous for its pony population, some of the baby animals you can look forward to spotting during a break in the New Forest are foals and calves.
There are a variety of beautiful wildflowers that you can spot in The New Forest including the Lesser Celandine with its beautiful buttery yellow. Why not go in search for the sunny Primrose with its beautiful shades of yellow making it a stunning addition to the Forest floor? In the spring you can also find delicate beautiful little flowers such as the Wood Anemone, which can be found in the woodlands.
It is an important time for nesting birds and as such you may find some areas of the forest have restricted access to allow the birds to breed and nest in peace.
Where can I learn more about the New Forest’s flora and fauna?
Enjoy a guided walk or cycle ride through the New Forest with Wild New Forest and learn lots of interesting facts and information about our wonderful flora and fauna in the New Forest. Whatever the season, their friendly expert guides will be able to tell you all about the flora and fauna you come across while on your tour through our heathland, grassland and woodland.
Make a visit to New Forest Reptile Centre and discover some of the species you can find within The New Forest, including the Adder and Smooth Lizard. Rangers and volunteers are also on hand to give you lots of information on the species you can see here.
Add the New Forest Walking & Cycling Festival to your diary, taking place every autumn in the New Forest. Nature is often the heart of walks during this brilliant event.
There are several nature reserves in the New Forest including Landford Bog, Landford (owned by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust), Keyhaven Nature Reserve (famous for its wetland flora and fauna) and Blashford Lakes, near Ringwood (managed by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust). These reserves offer special places to spot wildlife. Look out for guided nature walks, particularly at Blashford Lakes, where you can learn more about the species that you can find there.
Top tips for helping wildlife in the New Forest
The New Forest National Park is a wonderful place to visit and you can help it stay that way by being a Forest friendly visitor and follow the New Forest Code.
Please leave fungi for other people to enjoy. Fungi are essential to the New Forest’s internationally protected ecosystem. Foray leaders must apply for permission for educational excursions from the Forestry England in advance. If you suspect or see commercial picking please call the Forestry England on 0300 067 4600 or the National Trust on 01425 650035.
Finally, we suggest that you keep an eye on our what’s on pages for details of any wildlife events taking place here in the New Forest.