Ground Nesting Introduction

The New Forest National Park is home to a range of special birds which nest on the ground. Ground nesting birds are vulnerable between 1st March and 31st July. They lay their eggs and raise their chicks on the Forest’s open heathlands and wetlands, which makes them more vulnerable to disturbance than birds that nest in trees.

The wet habitats of the New Forest contain very important populations of four breeding waders (birds with long legs that often feed in shallow water). Wetland restoration has left their habitat in good condition, but to give these birds the best chance of success we need to limit disturbance to them during the breeding season.

The New Forest heathlands are also important for other birds such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar and woodlark, which also nest on or close to the ground.

Many factors influence the success of breeding birds, including food supply, predation and the weather. Limiting our disturbance to these birds will help them face these natural pressures. Disturbance can cause eggs to be chilled, or taken by predators such as crows. The public are asked to keep themselves (and their dogs) to main tracks. Move away quickly if you see disturbed or distressed parent birds. Encourage others to do the same.

Under Your Feet! with Chris Packham

Ground Nesting Birds

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Uploaded by Media Archive on 2/7/2019
UNDER YOUR FEET! Ground-nesting birds in the New Forest. The New Forest National Park is home to a range of special birds which nest on the ground. Chris Pac...

Which Birds Nest On The Ground?

  Curlew
The largest European wading bird, instantly recognisable on winter estuaries or summer moors with its long down-curved bill, brown upperparts & long legs.
  Dartford Warbler
Small, dark & long-tailed, resident in the UK. Population crashed to a few pairs in the 1960s, since when it has gradually recovered. It will perch on top of a gorse stem to sing        
  Lapwing
AKA the peewit in imitation of its display calls, lapwing describes its wavering flight. Its black & white appearance & round-winged shape in flight make it distinctive, even without its splendid crest.
  Nightjar
Nocturnal. Can be seen hawking for food at dusk & dawn. Pointed wings & a long tails, a shape similar to a kestrel or cuckoo. Grey-brown, mottled, streaked & barred plumage are ideal camouflage.
  Redshank
Medium-sized wading bird. Longish red legs & a long, straight bill. Grey-brown above & whitish below. In flight, it shows very obvious white rear edges to the wings & a white 'V-shape' up its back.
  Snipe
Medium sized, skulking wading birds with short legs & longstraight bills. Mottled brown above, with paler buff stripes on the back, dark streaks on the chest & pale under parts.
  Woodlark
Streaky brown, a buffy-white eye-stripe meets across the nape. A well developed crest on its crown is not always conspicuous. In flight the short tail & broad, rounded wings are noticeable.