Local Habitats

Although Portsmouth is the most densely populated city in the UK, there are several important wildlife sites and habitats on the island of Portsea.

Farlington Marshes, a saltwater lagoon on the northern shore of Langston Harbour, is an internationally important site for migrating ducks, geese, swans and wading birds. Many of the birds found on the marshes are featured in our replica hide display, accompanied by a soundtrack of bird sounds and song.

Hilsea Lines run along the northern edge of Portsea Island. Their origins date to the 16th century when Henry VIII ordered the building of a defensive wall to control the only crossing point onto the island.

In the 1750s, following the renewal of war with France, trenches and fortifications were added which were remodelled in the 1850s

When forts were built along the top of Portsdown Hill, the area fell into disuse and became overgrown. Today, Hilsea Lines contains the most wildlife habitats on Portsea Island which are explored in our displays.

Gardens are important wildlife habitats and attract birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Some of the visitors to gardens are featured in the urban habitat display, along with an unusual visitor which reflects Portsmouth’s proximity to the sea.

The Woodland display shows some of the bird species found in our trees. Many of these birds are now under threat in woods which are not managed, as well as from the increase in deer browsing which impacts on ground-foraging birds.