Our bird hide is open year-round and is fully accessible via the boardwalk. So grab your binoculars and settle in to watch the wide variety of local bird life that visits the park.
Head to Visitor Services in The Lookout for more information and to access the hide.
Look out for the returning migratory birds along the North Solent National Nature Reserve and Dark Water Estuary.
Stroll through the wild flower meadows watching bees and butterflies feeding on the abundance of flowers.
Look for the fungi in the woodlands and see the birds feeding on autumnal berries in our traditionally laid hedges.
Watch out for the returning wintering birds such as Dark Bellied Brent Geese which feed on the shores of the Solent over the winter.
The North Solent Nature reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Until about 10 years ago, a tidal flap valve kept the land north of the road largely salt free. With sea levels rising, sluices now allow a much larger movement of sea water into the estuary. Low lying wet meadows and reed beds have been rapidly replaced by salt marsh.
These salt marshes are an excellent habitat for birds. As well as the usual waders and wildfowl, you might also spot marsh harriers hunting over the area, secretive water rail, or even the occasional spoonbill.
The salt marsh is a rich feeding ground for overwintering birds such as brent geese, red shank and dunlin. One specialist animal you can easily see along this stretch is the tiny laver spire shell snail which feeds on the green seaweeds and is in turn eaten by the attractive shelduck.
Vegetation and habitat
The salt tolerant vegetation (such as Glassworts Salicornia, cord grass and sea purslane) is specially adapted to this environment and thrives in this area. Spartina anglica, a type of cordgrass, was introduced to the Beaulieu River estuary by Baron Montagu of Beaulieu c.1900 and was flourishing in the area until recently.
The salt marsh is a highly threatened habitat as areas have been lost under coastal reclamation for industrial or urban use and through natural ‘coastal squeeze’ as sea level rises.
Haxlands Pits is a disused pit originally excavated for marl, a mixture of chalk and clay. Farmers would dig up alkaline soil to spread onto the fields to reduce acidity and improve structure of heathy, sandy, acidic soils. This disused pit now forms a special habitat called a willow carr, a waterlogged area where willows thrive and form a wet woodland.
Willow woodlands can often support more invertebrate species than oak habitats. This area in particular shows an increasing number of bird species. Haxlands Pits is now recognised as a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation).
You'll pass the Haxlands Pits during the Lepe Loop walk.