When most talk about the New Forest, their famous native ponies are sure to be a subject of the conversation! But, as well as these gorgeous four-legged residents, the New Forest is home to an array of other wonderful wildlife.
Awarded Special Area of Conservation status in regards to its rich and diverse habitats for wildlife within its bogs, woodlands and open heathland, the New Forest is a haven for animal lovers. From birds, deer and horses, to squirrels, pigs and more, this stunning National Park is one of the best places to see the wonder of nature at work.
Often seen roaming and grazing freely amongst the grounds, the New Forest is known for its native ponies, who usually make an appearance around the countryside, towns and villages. Interbred over the centuries to increase variety, you’ll see the ponies in various colours and sizes.
Very popular with visitors, donkeys are usually visible in the New Forest all year round. With a hardy nature making them more tolerant of harsher weather conditions, you’re most likely to spot them in towns such as Brockenhurst, Burley and Beaulieu grazing on hedgerows.
Pigs roam freely about the New Forest and, in an act that harks back to the time of William the Conqueror, they’re let loose every autumn in the act of Pannage. This involves the pigs eating fallen chestnuts and acorns to prevent ponies from eating them, as they are poisonous to them.
If you’re a lover of deer, the New Forest is a beautiful place to spot this gorgeous animal. As home to not one but five different species of deer, with only two being native to the UK, you won’t find a more diverse range anywhere else. With males sporting impressive antlers, and with females flecked with white dots, the fallow deer are usually the easiest to spot.
With red and roe deer being native species, these species are typically the most secluded and more difficult to find. If you’re lucky, you might come across the Sika and Muntjac deer.
With Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, and with a herd regularly lounging on the grounds in front of Burley Manor, there are many places to go to spot this lovely creature. The best times to spot deer being dawn and dusk, and you’ll be able to see our very own resident deer making an appearance from your view in our shepherd’s hut.
Much like ponies and donkeys, cattle roam the New Forest freely. With up to 3000 spotted in the summer, with fewer numbers in the autumn and winter, you’re sure to spot various breeds of this lovely animal. From the Friesian cow to the winter-ready Highland cattle, the New Forest is the perfect place for all animal lovers.
With a very healthy population as a result of a mixture of woodland and heathland, the New Forest is an ideal place to spot some of your favourite birds. In fact, it’s sometimes the only place to see specific bird species in the UK. With an extensive list of bird species, such as buzzards, crossbills, Dartford warblers, stonechats, woodpeckers, curlews, owls, hen harriers and sparrowhawks, this lovely forest is a bird watcher’s dream.
If you are quiet and careful enough, you’ll be able to spot badgers in the woodlands. However, as they are timid creatures, they can be easily startled. As they usually emerge from their habitats to search for food, the best time to spot them is at either dawn or dusk.
Despite an outbreak of myxomatosis in the 1950s, which unfortunately affected their numbers, the population of rabbits in the New Forest recovered well and remains healthy. A familiar sight throughout the New Forest, you’ll see rabbits on the grassy road embankments and grazing on the larger open areas of grassland.
You can usually spot these creatures scurrying their way across the New Forest’s woodlands and forests. With grey squirrels being the most common sight, as opposed to the red squirrel, these mischievous animals can be found stealing eggs from birds’ nests for their food.