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The main ride in Havant Thicket, this is where I see the Purple Emperor normally flying just over the Oak stands on the left of the picture. Unfortunately it looks like this part of Havant Thicket may disappear under water in the future.

Havant Thicket and Staunton Country Park


The Silver-Washed Fritillary is quite common in the rides where there is good areas of Bramble and thistles . This is a female which lays its eggs on the base of Oak trees close to Dog Violets.

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The prize of any walk through Havant Thicket would be the Purple Emperor if your very fortunate. They are very rarely seen alighting on the ground, however you may get a glimpse of a female which lays its eggs on sallow, which is common in the wood.

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White Admirals are also very common in the wood , they lay their eggs on the strands of Honeysuckle which grow in the more shaded areas of the wood.


The Havant thicket site is a Forestry Commission area of woodland north of Leigh Park, Havant and east of Rowlands Castle.


The main entrance point is on Manor Lodge Road where this an on site car-park.  (OS Grid Reference SU 725102.  The Post Code PO9 6HE for the road opposite the entrance will get you there if you use a GPS navigator.


The site is best known for nightjars, woodcocks and glow-worms but there are also plenty of wild flowers, adders if you know where to look and it can also be good for fungi.

Most of the paths on the map are good although in some areas they can be very muddy after rain especially in areas where there has been recent forestry work.  Occasionally you may find paths closed where work is going on.


To hear and see nightjars visit between early May and July.  The birds arrive sometime in May so it may be better to wait till towards the end of the month if you want to be sure to hear or see them.  The good areas to search (in 2011 and probably 2012) are in areas relatively recently cleared around the little blue numbers 14 and 15 and newly in 2010 21 and 22.  They chur and become active from about half an hour after sunset and if you are lucky enough to see them flying in moonlight, particularly early in the season, it can be a magic experience.  Most years the local Wildlife Trust arrange a walk to see them.  


Woodcocks are usually seen roding over the trees and can be expected in any area where you have reasonable views around you.  e.g. all the good nightjar paths.  They usually announce themselves by the piping 'roding' calls described in one bird book as a 'croaking orrrt-orrrt followed by louder, high sneezing tsiwick'.  Personally I have not heard the croaking recently - to do with my age maybe!


Glow- worms can be found in the verges of the paths between 9 and 17 on the map but I suspect that a good search would find them on other paths.  Usually we find them when walking back from Nightjar walks in from late June into early August.

The grasslands south of the Thicket are also worth a look for the wild flowers on the rights of way that cross the area for wild flowers and at the right time of the year for breeding lapwings.  This area is destined to be flooded to create a a new reservoir but this looks to be many years away.

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Woodcocks are quite uncommon and are a ground nesting bird, they are rarely seen unless disturbed.

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Nightjars can be seen in the areas of felled woodland, which is being taken over by heathland plants. They are seen quite often at dusk when they start to hunt their prey of moths and other insects.


Adders are now an endangered species so seeing one of these would be a real treat, please your distance as they will bite if provoked. 

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There are a lot of moths in Havant thicket but they are mainly nocturnal, but some day flying moths like this Clouded Border, can be seen in the rides in the summer.


This is what the Reservoir is going to look like with marshy areas which would encourage aquatic birds and insects. It will be interesting to see if the sallow stands will grow back with this plan, as there is going to be a lot extracted, to make way for the sailing centre and other buildings. This is going to take time to look like this, probably about twenty years, give or take a few years.

The areas of woodland the trust said could be destroyed are Round Wood, Middle Clearing, part of Havant Thicket and The Avenue, which is also designated as wood pasture.

"This special place forms part of the historic Forest of Bere which dates back almost a thousand years to 1086," the Woodland Trust said.

The trust's lead campaigner, Jack Taylor, said: "It is one of our rarest habitats. It has lain undisturbed for centuries, evolving into a delicate eco-system capable of supporting thousands of species of birds, mammals, invertebrates, lichens, mosses, flowers and plants.

"At this time of climate and nature emergency we should be protecting this habitat, not destroying it."


Portsmouth Water, which owns the 160-hectare site, said the reservoir would "secure much-needed supplies for the water-stressed county", hold 8,700 million litres and supply up to 21 million litres of water each day.


It would also create a new public leisure space and "sustainable wetland" along its northern shore "to offer a new home for a wide range of water plants, wetland birds and other wildlife", it said.

"Alongside these commitments we will carry out improvements to local streams and design the reservoir itself to support a variety of species and deliver an overall net gain for the environment," the company added.

The public consultation on plans for the reservoir, which would be the first new one to be built in south east England since the 1970s, runs until 8 June.

Sallow between Havant Thicket and Bells

Sallow has grown in abundance in and around the rides of Havant Thicket and Bells Copse. Here at the cross-ways at the bottom of the main ride the Purple Emperor can be seen. Unfortunately this is where the sailing centre is to be built so the Purple Emperor will probably be a rare sight in the future, throughout the construction of the reservoir.

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