Places to see birds



The area of salt marsh and mudflats between Lymington and Keyhaven is a haven for birdlife throughout the year, and forms the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve, managed by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

The Reserve is of international importance for the large numbers of breeding, feeding and roosting birds that it supports. Black-headed gulls along with little and sandwich terns breed here in significant numbers, along with waders such as oystercatcher, ringed plover and redshank. In addition to Hurst Spit, the sea wall provides excellent shelter to these species, whilst also helping to protect this special area of coastline.

Brent geese, dunlin, grey and golden plover and black-tailed godwit, along with wildfowl such as mallard, shoveler, teal, wigeon, gadwall and pintail spend the winter months here in large flocks.

Little egret and kingfisher can be seen on the Reserve throughout the year.

Dartford warbler, linnet, stonechat and wheatear are among the bird species which can be found on the surrounding pasture and gorse.

Raptors such as barn owls for example, find this a successful hunting ground.

There are large creeks between the salt marsh, which form nursery areas for fish, and hence many birds feed from the exposed mud at low tide.

In addition to the birdlife which can be found on the Reserve, there is also a wealth of other wildlife here. The salt marsh has pioneering plant species such as the succulent glasswort and common cord-grass. The upper marshes and shingle support colourful plants such as sea campion, little-robin, thrift, yellow-horned poppy, sea aster and golden-samphire.

The sea wall is easily accessible and forms part of the Solent Way long distance footpath. Car parking is available opposite the Royal Lymington Yacht Club in Bath Road, Lymington or opposite the Gun Inn, Keyhaven (please note: seasonal parking charges apply).