Langstone Harbour (North) overview

** SITES AROUND LANGSTONE HARBOUR **
Site name and features
1Farlington Marshes
See the separate detailed map for fuller info. (Click F/MARSH to go to that map.)
Farlington Marshes are still owned by Portsmouth City Council but, thanks to the vision of Councillor Freddy Emery-Wallis, when (in the late 1950s) modern refrigeration and refrigerated transport meant that it was no longer necessary to have 'meat on the hoof' close to the city and these coastal meadows ceased to be agriculturally viable they were reserved as an open space for recreation and permanently excluded from building proposals. This decision by the city co-incided with the first real surge of environmental concern around 1960 and local people (in particular the 'Portsmouth Group' of birders with Colin Tubbs and David Billet among them) banded together to protect the wildlife that was suddenly vanishing before the advance of modern agriculture - two notable results being the formation of the Hampshire Naturalists(now Wildlife) Trust and the development of the Marshes as the Trust's first Nature Reserve.
One other thing that should be said here is that the Marshes is by no means just a 'birding place' - it is also of great botanic interest (very few coastal meadows now remain unimproved) and has a variety of non-birding interest in the large ponds, woodland and grassland north of the A27 where few birders bother to visit
2Langstone Harbour RSPB Reserve - the islands
There is no public access to the 1500 acres of the harbour containing North Binness, Long Island, Round Nap, South Binness and Baker's Island - you can sail round them but can only land in one clearly marked area. Good views of the reserve can be had from the east wall of Farlington Marshes and from 'Budds Mound'. The purpose of these islands is to provide an undisturbed breeding ground in the summer and high tide roost in the winter and there is no way that visitors can reach the islands without causing disturbance
The current RSPB warden is Chris Cockburn. If you want to contact him do so through the RSPB South East area office in Brighton (01273-775333)
As well as the endangered Little Terns, of which around 100 pairs breed on the reserve, both Common and Sandwich Terns nest there with a huge colony of Black Headed Gulls that included 14 pairs of Mediterranean Gull in 1998
3Broadmarsh Coastal Park
All the land south of the A27 and west of the Hermitage Stream, where the original harbour shoreline was used as a rubbish tip in the 1960s, is owned by Havant Borough and has now been grassed over and dedicated as a Coastal Park. North of Harts Farm Way the land is playing fields (much used by grazing Brent in the winter) and south of the minor road are a public slipway and boatpark with large open access grassland which is maintained in a natural state. Two shoreline carparks (free) offer the public, naturalists and dog-walkers easy access to the shore. Along the eastern edge of the site are tall mounds giving good views (especially from the southern peak)
The slipway carpark gives immediate access to the path going north up the Hermitage Stream and along the shore of the Chalk Dock inlet. Seabirds follow the channel up into the mouth of the stream and it is sometimes possible to see Red Throated Diver, Black Necked Grebe, Goosander and Merganser right below you in the water. Last summer a Ring-billed Gull posed on the slipway for a couple of weeks. Further upstream (below the A27) is a favourite Kingfisher spot in winter.
The smaller carpark nearer the A27 takes you straight onto the Solent Way path leading west to Farlington Marshes and this is a good starting point for a walk round the reserve. The same path takes you east to the other carpark and the Stream.
Both carparks open south off Harts Farm Way. For those unfamiliar with the area go to the Havant/Langstone roundabout on the A27, head west along the A27 and take the first sliproad marked for the A3M. At the mini-roundabout turn left into Harts Farm Way then take either the first or second turn on the right for the two carparks
4Budds Farm
This is Southern Water's major sewage treatment plant for the Havant area and will soon also deal with Portsmouth sewage when a pipeline from Eastney (now under construction) is completed. A major upgrade to the sewage treatment processes may make Budds Farm less rich in bird food, and less of an attraction to those feeding on insects in the air or on the filter beds, but the large open pools at the south end have been saved specifically for the birds (though in them too the food may diminish)
The best spot for viewing is Budd's Mound south of the sewage works overlooking it and the harbour to the south. You can drive down Southmoor Lane and (under a height barrier) on to the top of the mound (which is an old rubbish dump). From the mound you can walk down steps to the shore west of the mound and follow a path around the outside of the sewage works and alongside the Hermitage and Brockhampton streams before completing the circuit by road. The mound is also the best place from which to explore the South Moors and Langbrook stream to the east.
The combination of views over the pools, the open harbour, the streams and South Moors make this one of the best birding spots in the Havant area. Access is via Harts Farm Way, turning south down Southmoor Lane at the mini-roundabout at its east end. You can also approach from Solent Road in Havant, driving west past the large TESCO store and turning left at the mini-roundabout, over the A27 and straight ahead down Southmoor Lane at the other roundabout
5Langstone South Moors
Despite considerable factory development on the wet coastal meadows that once covered this area we have now seen a limit to that development and it is likely that all the land between Southmoor Lane and the Langbrook Stream along the west edge of Langstone will become a permanent nature reserve with considerable botanic interest as well as the bird life of the shore, stream and meadow. As well as uncommon sedges and grasses there is a colony of thousands of Southern Marsh orchids and an interesting colony of Butterbur plants (nearly all other colonies are of male plants only - this one is of females, though they were 'introduced').
You can access the Moors from Budds Mound (see above) - this is the easiest if coming by car - or from Langstone village down Mill Lane to the cross the Langbrook Stream at the site of the (now vanished) West Mill, or you can walk south alongside the Langbrook Stream from the east end of the TESCO store on Solent Road, Havant.
From Budds Mound you can follow a circular route east along the shore, north up the Langbrook stream and then north west across the meadow, back to Southmoor Lane, from where the West Lane route comes onto the Moors.
You may be confused by the use of the name Lavant Stream as an alternative to the Langbrook Stream. Lavant is equivalent to 'Winterbourne', i.e. a stream that only flows in winter floods, and there is such a stream that every few years rises at Idsworth, flows south following the railway through Rowlands Castle to Havant. Its course still continues through Havant town centre (underground) to flow out as the Langbrook (which is the permanently running part of this stream from the Havant Homewell spring southward). Flooding problems in Havant years ago forced a piped diversion of the Lavant stream water from West Leigh (north of Havant centre) westward into the Hermitage Stream at Stockheath.
6THE HAYLING BILLY LEISURE TRAIL
This is the railway line from Havant to Hayling West Town, disused since 1967, and now a footpath, bridleway and cycletrack. It is marked on the map by the yellow line coming south from Havant past Wade Court to cross the main road at Langstone. As the railway bridge has been demolished users of the route currently have to use the road bridge on which the pavements have been widened for use by both walkers and cyclists. Note that the Hayling section of the line is owned by the County Council who call it the Hayling Coastal Path (north of the bridge the mainland section is owned by Havant Borough who call it the Hayling Billy Leisure Trail).