In Wildlife

If you want to see something that is off-the-scale adorable, make time to visit the magical New Forest for a few days or hours over the next couple of months.

Why? Because now is the best time to catch the enchanting new foals, baby donkeys, calves and fawns as they wobble and skip through the newly-awakening woodlands and heaths.

Watch out, too, for baby bunnies, hares, and fledgling birds emerging into the Spring sunshine, along with fox cubs and if you wait for dusktide, young badgers.

The free-roaming New Forest Ponies are one of the things which define this beautiful place they are a breed in their own right and their actions - nibbling at the trees and bushes - have literally helped shape the environment.

Over the past few weeks they have been giving birth to their young; sturdy, beautiful foals which you can see accompanying the mothers along the ancient tracks which connect the best eating, drinking and shelter spots.

Our roaming donkeys have been busy, too, and if you look out, you’ll be able to spot their foals trotting alongside their mothers as they move from place to place.

Although they are not technically wild animals, the ponies and donkeys are not accustomed to close human contact and for this reason you should never try and feed them or touch them. The mothers are VERY protective of their young and could even bite or charge if you get between them and their offspring, or if you attempt to touch the foals.

However, if you stay back, keep dogs on a short lead and wait quietly, they’ll soon realise you don’t mean any harm and relax enough for you to observe them from a distance, giving you a great opportunity to take a few pictures.

Best places to find them? If it’s a hot day, look under the largest single oak or beech trees or visit one of our ponds or streams (we have over 1,000 of them!) such as Janesmoor Pond or Setley Pond. Beachern Wood near Brockenhurst is another favourite pony spot. For donkeys, try Beaulieu – especially outside the Montagu Arms Hotel (They’ve even been seen trying to enter the building!). The large plain in front of The Rising Sun is also a great place to see free-roaming animals.

You will also see lots of cute and fluffy calves on your explorations across the New Forest too. You will usually find calves on open grassland and heathland across the forest. Please also keep your distance from these free-roaming animals too!

Spotting our truly wild residents and their young requires a little more patience.

Early morning just after sunrise or at dusk, as the sun prepares to set, is a good time to try and glimpse fox cubs as they emerge from their dens to frolic and play.  After dusk or the earliest part of the night is a good time to witness baby badgers come out of their setts.

These are also good times to see our five species of deer, too, from the magnificent Red Deer to the little Muntjacs although all breeds tend to leave their fawns sheltering in the long grass whilst they graze.

If you want to up your chances of spotting a fawn just like Bambi, get along to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. We can’t promise you’ll see them but the Fallow herd know they will be fed by a ranger between 12-noon and 3pm every day from April to September, so there’s a reasonable chance of a sighting between those times.

And, finally, don’t forget the new animals that will be arriving at the Longdown Activity Farm near Ashurst. From lambs to piglets and calves and newly-hatched chicks and ducklings, there are plenty of babies for your little ones to interact with and enjoy.

Be extra careful when driving our on forest roads at this time of year too, with lots of new animals across the forest!

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