Hampshire Butterfly Sites
Brief descriptions and locations of more than 30 places to see Hampshire's butterflies, with links to more detailed "Site Features"
When visiting butterfly sites, please help safeguard our butterfly populations by following the "Code Of Practice", prepared with consultation from several organisations (including Butterfly Conservation) and individuals. You can access it via the main menu.
The butterfly species pages include references to various sites in Hampshire as examples of where a particular species can be found. Most of these sites are indicated on the location map below followed by a listing of the sites in alphabetical order, each with a summary description.
In addition, for a significant number of these sites, a longer feature has been created, providing a more detailed site description, site/habitat photos, and other useful information. These are sites which I know particularly well and are mainly in the south of the county. These longer features can be accessed via the links on the left (arranged in the order they were produced) or via shortcuts in the site list below.
List Of Hampshire Butterfly Sites With Summary Descriptions
Clicking the name of each site below will take you to a navigable map, courtesy of Streetmap.
Sites which are located within the New Forest National Park boundary are indicated by the postscript "New Forest" in parenthesis.
Acres Down (New Forest) Picturesque area of undulating heathland in the New Forest, with surrounding woodland. Very pleasant for walks. Silver-studded Blue present on heath (arrowed on map) though not in large numbers.
Alice Holt Forest Large mixed woodland in NE Hants managed by Forest Enterprise. The majority of common woodland dwelling species are represented as well as Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak. The forest is also a stronghold for Purple Emperor. There is a vistor centre (with café), waymarked trails, pleasant woodland walks and picnic areas which provide an additional dimension as a family day out, as well as being a good site for the butterfly enthusiast. Covered in site feature on Alice Holt & Bentley S M - click here or use link on left
Beacon Hill (Warnford) Steep chalk downland escarpment (arrowed on map) overlooking the Meon Valley. Chalk downland species represented include Chalkhill Blue and Silver-spotted Skipper. Brown Argus, Small Blue, Grizzled and Dingy Skipper also present in addition to common species.
Beaulieu Heath (New Forest) Large expanse of heathland in the New Forest and a good example of this type of habitat found in the area. Parts of the heath are sheltered by gorse and other bushes as well as by woodland edge. Key heathland species such as Silver-studded Blue, Grayling and Dark Green Fritillary (the latter in low density) can be found on the heath. Other attractions include a large pond (Hatchet Pond) and a picturesque stream at Crockford Bridge with many dragonflies. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Bentley Station Meadow Butterfly Conservation (Hampshire & IoW) managed reserve. The reserve consists of a strip of ancient meadow with woodland edge. Good variety of commoner species including Peacock, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Large and Small Skippers as well as Silver-washed Fritillary. White Admirals are occasional visitors and Purple Emperor sightings are not uncommon, bearing in mind close proximity to Alice Holt forest. Covered in site feature on Alice Holt & Bentley S M - click here or use link on left
Bentley Wood Large mixed woodland on Hants/Wilts border and recognised nationally for its importance as a butterfly site, with all woodland species found in Central Southern England present. In the Hampshire section, called the Eastern Clearing (arrowed on map) there are good colonies of Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Duke of Burgundy are present in small numbers and Marsh Fritilary are also occasionally recorded. Bentley Wood is considered one of the best sites in the country to observe Purple Emperor, in particular around the car park close to the Hants/Wilts border and along the track leading west called the switchback. Site feature - click here or use link on left
Broughton Down Broughton Down is a fine example of unimproved chalk downland lying on north-east facing escarpment which provides fine views over the Test Valley. It is managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust as a Nature Reserve and is also a designated SSSI taking into account the good range of chalk habitats represented. Resident chalk downland species include Silver-spotted Skipper, Chalkhill Blue and Brown Argus, however the down is also one of few sites in Hampshire where the Adonis Blue can be found, albeit in low numbers. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Browndown Browndown contains unique areas of coastal heath and scrub close to the Solent. Browndown South (used occasionally for military training) is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest noted especially for its unusual variety of coastal flora. It also has a strong colony of Grayling and common species such as Marbled White, Small Copper, Holly Blue and Small/Essex Skipper. Browndown North, on the inland side of the Gosport to Lee-on Solent road, is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Grayling are also present here, as well as Green Hairstreak, and a good variety of common species. White Admirals are also occasionally seen in a small wooded area. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Broxhead Common Dry heathland remnant in East Hampshire which is a local nature reserve owned by Hampshire County Coucil. Silver-studded Blue thrive among the heathery heath - one of few colonies in East Hampshire.
Butser Hill (Rake Bottom) Butser Hill is the highest point on the South Downs. The area includes a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as being a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The area consists of improved and unimproved calcerous grassland with scattered scrub, chalk heath, yew woodland and semi broad-leaved woodland. The area known as Rake Bottom is a steep sided valley cutting into west side of the hill and has good colonies of Duke of Burgundy, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. Green Hairstreak are also present. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Farley Mount Country Park Large Country Park west of Winchester jointly managed by Hampshire County Council and Forest Enterprise with good visitor facilities including picnic places and and covered barbecue - and not forgetting its monument (folly) providing fine views. The park also provides a diverse habitat for butterflies, comprising chalk downland (Pitt Down), ancient woodland (Crab Wood) and a working woodland (West Wood). Dark Green Fritillary are present in modest numbers on Pitt Down as well as many common species, whilst Crab Wood is notable for Silver-washed Fritillary. Purple Emperors are also occasionally recorded from different woodland locations around the park. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Godshill (New Forest) Pleasant Area of undulating heathland in NW of New Forest. Good site for Silver-studded Blue and Grayling (arrowed).
Hawkhill Inclosure (New Forest) Mainly coniferous New Forest Inclosure on the Brockenhurst-Beaulieu road, which contains one of the few woodland based colonies of Dark Green Fritillary in the county. They frequent the area close to the stream (Worts Gutter). Woodland species such as Silver-washed Fritillary and occasionally White Admiral are also present. Silver-studded Blue can be found in the heathland area immediately in front of the inclosure. Hawkhill is included as a mini-feature within New Forest - East Inclosures - click here or use link on left.
Hurst Castle Possibly the only colony of Glanville Fritillary in Hampshire and probably the only naturalised colony on mainland UK, following the demise of the nearby colony at Hordle Cliffs (no reported sightings from Hordle in recent years). The future of the Hurst Castle colony is far from secure and numbers are very variable. At Hurst Castle, Glanvilles are occupying the area, including a small meadow, on the inland side of the castle.
Lymington-Keyhaven Hampshire & IoW Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve of international importance, overlooking the Solent, and comprising salt-marsh, shallow lagoons and mudflats. Whilst it is especially noted for its wading birds and specialist flora, it is also one of the few places in the county to see the Wall butterfly, which is still reported in reasonable numbers along the coastal footpaths bordering the lagoons and also along inland tracks around the Normandy, Oxey, Pennington and Keyhaven marshes (such as the track known as the ancient highway here). Much of these inland areas actually comprise rough grassland and scrub (with some areas out of bounds), where the Wall butterflies breed. Green Hairstreak are also reported from the reserve and there is a decent range of widespread species to be seen including common Nymphalids and Small Copper.
Magdalen Hill Down Butterfly Conservation (Hampshire & IoW) reserve close to Winchester and one of Hampshire's best chalk downland butterfly sites, despite its modest size. 34 species have been recorded there. Original western section of reserve consists of steep slope of unimproved chalk downland which has important breeding colonies of Chalkhill Blue, Green Haistreak and Brown Argus, as well as small colony of Grizzled Skipper. More recently acquired eastern section is being returned to flower rich downland from arable farmland. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Martin Down National Nature Reserve in the far west of the county and one of Hampshire's best butterfly sites. The reserve occupies a large expanse of undulating chalk downland bounded to the west by a prehistoric earthwork called the Bokerley Ditch. Most of Hampshire's chalk downland species are represented including Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Small Blue and Dark Green Fritillary, as well as Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak. Marsh Fritillary are also present in modest numbers. There is an area of woodland and scrub also within the reserve, to the north of the Salisbury - Blandford road where some woodland species can be found, including Silver-washed Fritillary. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
New Copse Inclosure (New Forest) A mainly deciduous inclosure in the New Forest, close to Brockenhurst, with impressive stands of oak and beech. Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are present along the open rides, and benefitting from sympathetic management by the Forestry Commission to improve biodiversity of the ground flora by thinning out the under-storey vegetation. Silver-washed Fritillary and common woodland species are also present. New Copse is included as a mini-feature within New Forest - East Inclosures - click here or use link on left.
Noar Hill Hampshire and IoW Wildlife Trust reserve close to the Meon Valley. The wide variety of habitats including chalk scrub interspersed with woodland and blackthorn scrub, reflect the good range of species found at the reserve. Medieval chalk workings now reclaimed by nature provide a sheltered environment for butterflies, including Duke of Burgundy and Dingy Skipper. Site is also noted for its variety of flora including orchids. The reserve is also one of just two locations in the county for Brown Hairstreak, although numbers seem to be declining in recent years. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Old Winchester Hill Large National Nature Reserve crowned by an Iron Age hill fort on species rich chalk downland. Excellent site for Chalkhill Blue (with numbers often in the hundreds). Silver-spotted Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary, Marbled White and common species. Old Winchester Hill was also chosen by English Nature for an experimental re-introduction of Adonis Blue several years ago, however they are now becoming very scarce, following a series of poor summers. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Oxenbourne Down Local Nature Reserve close to Butser Hill, providing sheltered chalk downland habitat, with a good colony of Chalkhill Blue. Duke of Burgundy (very small colony) and Silver-spotted Skipper are also present on the reserve.
Pamber Forest Large mature woodland in the north of the county, and good site for several woodland species including , Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary used to be recorded in small numbers but are now believed to be extinct here.
Pignal/Parkhill Inclosures (New Forest) Mixed woodland inclosures close to Brockenhurst in the New Forest which is very popular with visitors. Pearl-bordered Fritillary can often be seen along the open rides and in clearings during May and there are good populations of Silver-washed Fritillary and Purple Haistreak, as well as common woodland species. Pignal is included as a mini-feature in New Forest - East Inclosures - click here or use link on left.
Pilot Hill Steep chalk downland escarpment in the extreme north of the county, close to the Berkshire border. It is especially notable for its colony of Chalkhill Blue, but other species reported, usually in small numbers, include Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath and Small Copper as well as common species. There are also occasional isolated sightings of Adonis Blue.
Pondhead Inclosure (New Forest) A true New Forest inclosure (i.e. fenced) just SE of Lyndhurst. Restricted grazing has allowed species like Silver-washed Fritillary to flourish. This mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland site also has a good populations of White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak. Pondhead is also included as a mini-feature within New Forest - East Inclosures - click here or use link on left.
Portsdown Hill Chalk downland escarpment which overlooks
Roydon Woods Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserve located about 1 mile south of Brockenhurst, but just outside the New Forest boundary. The reserve extends for almost 1000 acres and consists of ancient woodland, wood pasture, heath, fields and meadows. There are a number of trails to be explored where woodland butterflies including Silver-washed Fritillary may be seen. However, the main butterfly interest of the reserve relates to the modest colony of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary located on a damp meadow area (here) of Roydon Common, which is slightly alkaline in characteristics due to the large quantity of fossils.
Shipton Bellinger Unusual site on Crown (MoD) land located in the far NW of the county and consisting of a network of tracks with thick hedgerows, scrub and woodland edge bordering arable farmland. It is presently the strongest site in Hampshire for Brown Hairstreak and also has a good variety of common species. Occasional sightings of Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Dingy Skipper and Wall Brown are also reported, possibly thanks to the proximity of chalk downland sites on nearby Salisbury Plain. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Silchester Common Large area of common and heathland in the north of the county, containing a large colony of Silver-studded Blue.
Stockbridge Down National Trust managed chalk downland with some woodland to the west of Winchester. Good population of Chalkhill Blue with other chalk downland species present in low/variable numbers including Silver-spotted Skipper, Grizzled Skipper and Dark Green Fritillary. Silver-washed Fritillary can be found in the woodland at the eastern end of the down. Here a good White-letter Hairstreak colony can also be found on a group of surviving elms. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Whiteley Pastures Whiteley Pastures, despite its name, is a woodland managed by Forest Enterprise in South Hampshire. It is a good site for several woodland species, including Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak. Purple Emperor are also present and seem to be becoming more conspicuous in recent years. A small White-letter Hairstreak colony survives on a single Wych Elm close to the main entrance. The adjoining Botley Wood has colonies of Grizzled Skipper and Dingy Skipper. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Wootton Coppice Inclosure (New Forest) Mixed woodland inclosure located in the south west of the New Forest with flower rich rides and meadows. It is one of the best locations in the Forest for butterflies and one of few locations within the National Park boundary for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. There is a good population of Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admirals can be seen along the rides. Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are also occasionally recorded. The meadows can be damp and even wet or boggy in places, so some care needs to be exercised when exploring them. Site feature - click here or use link on left.
Yateley Common Country Park straddling the A30 between Camberley and Hartley Wintney. Whilst the country park contains woodland, lakes and heathland, the main butterfly interest centres on the heathland areas, where Grayling and Silver-studded Blue can be found in good numbers.
Yew Hill Small reserve managed by Butterfly Conservation close to Winchester. The 5 acre reserve consists of a fragment of chalk downland, beside a covered reservoir, with some hedgerow and a wooded lane. Deep gullies in the downland provide a sheltered habitat for butterflies. The reserve has sizeable colonies of Chalkhill Blue and Marbled White. Other species regularly seen include Holly Blue, Brimstone, Gatekeeper and other common species. There are also occasional sightings of Dark Green Fritillary and even White-letter Hairstreak which are believed to reside in the elms along the wooded lane to the south east.