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Nature Reserves

Watching local birds and wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.  We hope the information below will help you to enjoy the wildlife in our parish.

Sturt Pond Saltmarsh/Reedbed Nature Reserve Bird Hide and Tern Raft: 

A hidden sanctuary for bird watchers which overlooks the Sturt Pond area of the extensive Keyhaven nature reserve. The bird hide can be found at the end of the concealed metal gated path between the Marine Cafe & black council sheds at the end of Milford Beach and the beginning of Hurst Spit.

Keyhaven Marshes (Shallow Brackish Lagoons and Islands): 

Sturt Pond lies just East from Milford on Sea beach at the start of Hurst Spit. The pond is a haven for swans, ducks, Brent geese, mallard, teal, shelduck & grebes. Two wooden bridges cross the stream which runs from Sturt Pond to the salt marshes. The marshes of Keyhaven Nature Reserve have an abundance of wading birds including little egret, redshank, ringed plover, oystercatcher, dunlin & curlew,  plus a whole variety of regularly changing visitors.

Sturt Pond Meadow (Grazing Pasture with Dexter Cattle):

This village has it's very own Dexter cattle in the grazing meadow at Sturt Pond. The cattle graze four acres of land between Sturt Pond and Hurst Road. & in doing so, they eradicate course grass and improve habitat for wild flowers and herbs.

The Pleasure Grounds (Woodland)

*Access from Park Lane at the west end of village centre. Gate 2.

The Danes Stream forms part of the Milford on Sea conservation area & runs the length of the parish, through the Pleasure Grounds, Westerly towards Studland Common & Sharvells Copse, & Eastwards along the rear of the village shops towards Sturt Pond.  N.R. The Pleasure Grounds have 14 acres of woodland with a network of footpaths along the Danes Stream which runs parallel to the coast

Studland Common and Meadow (Grassland & Scrub): 

Studland Common is made up of two separate grazing compartments.  The Meadow and the Common.  Both have been recognised by Natural England for its unimproved grassland habitat, saying that, it has the potential to be of high biodiversity value for wildlife.  The Common is managed by the Parish Council and the MCV under a ten-year Higher Level Stewardship agreement.  The Meadow has been over-grazed for many years and will now be nurtured to enhance its value as a flower rich meadow.  The Common is made up of about 70% scrub and 30% grassland (see the Grazing Project booklet on our Publications page).  The management objective is to remove about 20% of the remaining scrub over the next seven to ten years, while rotationally coppicing the remaining scrub to create better age diversity.  Studland Common can be accessed via a new Disabled Access track at gate 12 at Pless Road at its junction with Westminster Road.

Click to view Studland Common Management Plan 2012-2022

Cliff Face and Cliff Top (the cliff face is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest  - Supporting rare Fossils):

The Cliff Top (area adjacent to West Road in the west to The White House in the east) has several compartments e.g. Hordle Cliff, Rook Cliff & Shinglebank.  Most of the cliff top is owned and looked after by New Forest District Council under a rotational Vegetation Management Plan. They have agreed to retain its variety of habitat types (close-cropped grass footpath edges, medium length rougher vegetation and the higher scrub layers).  The variety of habitats are rotationally cut or flailed annually.  We still have some brown-tailed moth problems, which vary from year to year, but the cleared vegetation areas close to footpaths and behind beach huts have now been widened so that walkers can enjoy the spectacular views without getting too close to the moth tents.

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Conserving our village wildlife and environment

Saltgrass Saline Lagoon (Brackish Lagoon, Reed and Fen - Supporting rare Invertebrate and Flora)

The Lagoon runs about 650 meters west to east along Saltgrass Lane from the high-water tide gate towards Keyhaven Quay.  It is gradually being desalinated owing to too much freshwater feeding in to it.  MCV and the Keyhaven Forum groups have called on the Hampshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England to return the SSSI lagoon to more favourable conditions to allow important invertebrate and rare plants to thrive.  Golden Samphire (Nationally Scarce), Parsley Water Dropwort (County Scarce), Foxtail Stonewort (Nationally Rare) and many other unusual flora & fauna once featured at this site.


The Pans and Avon Water Bird Observatory (Fresh water - supporting Wintering Wildfowl)

Through the generosity of  the J & D Edgar Ltd. family with assistance from Simeon Morgan Farming, MCV has been given an occupancy licence for a redundant farm building (old pumping station) at the westernmost end of the Ancient Highway.  The brick-building is being converted into a small Bird Observatory looking up The Pans and across to the lower Avon Water.  The Pans has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its gatherings of winter wildfowl.  MCV is working closely with the Scouting and Guiding Associations to make the facility available to youngsters.

Community Orchard (Orchard and Pasture supporting Bumblebees and Butterflies):

The Orchard is situated just inside the second gate on the left leading into Studland Meadow from Pless/Westminster Road.  It was first planted in 2014 and has about 35-40 fruit trees and shrubs.  Varieties include apple, crab apple, damson, pear, plum, cherry and blackberry.  The Orchard is partially grazed by our friendly Dexter cattle with a little extra help from flailing and mowing.  It is a good area for bumblebees and butterflies.