How the public can help New Forest's rare birds survive

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Nicki Woodcock

As lockdown begins to ease and more of us head to our favourite beauty spots, conservationists in the New Forest are urging people to be responsible to ensure wildlife continues to thrive. 

The national park is one of only a few places in the country where rare ground-nesting birds come to breed.

Lapwings are among the ground-nesting birds that come to the New Forest to breed Credit: Natural World

From March to late July - curlews, lapwings and woodlarks are among the rare species arriving in their hundreds to nest in the New Forest. Their numbers are declining elsewhere due to habitat loss.

Basic activities like walking and cycling can have a huge impact on their survival, but by following a few simple rules - it can make all the difference.

Woodlarks nest on the ground and can be easily disturbed Credit: Natural World

Dawn Rayment, who is a People and Wildlife Ranger at the New Forest National Park, said: "We want people to carry on coming to the national park, especially after lockdown, people need to get out and about and we appreciate that. But what we can do to minimise our recreational disturbance is keep to those main tracks.

"Horse riders, walkers, dog walkers, when they are out and about, especially when they see the orange signs or red signs about ground-nesting birds they should know those areas are special areas for the birds.

"Either consider walking somewhere different or if you do continue to walk, keep to that main track and if you do have a dog, keep that dog on the track as well.

"There's no use you staying to the track and having your dog hunting off in the heather either side. So if you need a lead, use a lead."

Dog owners are advised to keep their pet on the main tracks Credit: ITV News Meridian

To ensure the birds continue to flourish, special quiet zones have been set up and extra signage has been put in place.

Extra signage has been put in place to inform the public about where birds are nesting Credit: ITV News Meridian

Some car parks have also been closed including:

  • Crockford

  • Crockford Clump

  • Yewtree Heath

  • Clayhill

  • Hinchelsea

  • Shatterford

  • Hinchelsea Moor

  • Ocknell Pond

Rangers will be patrolling key nesting sites to enforce the rules, which are critical to ensure the long-term survival of many species.

Rangers will be patrolling key nesting sites to enforce the rules Credit: ITV News Meridian