Pennington sits on the river terrace plateau between Avon Water to the west and Yaldhurst stream to the east (see more in the Geology section). Pennington has a rich and diverse environment. Walking around Pennington you will see marshland, woodland and open field wildlife, flora and fauna, trees and hedgerows, rivers and streams.
Pennington Common and Upper Common are designated SSSIs (see Natural England website references 197, 198, and 199).
Pennington marshes are divided into 11 designated SSSIs (see Natural England website references 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17, 18, 19 and 23).
Pennington, Butts, Fishtail, Keyhaven and Oxey Lagoons
Inside the seawall are a series of shallow lagoons that allow salt water in from the Solent through a series of sluices and tidal flaps. The habitat this creates supports a distinctive mix of plants and wildlife including Foxtail Stonewart, Lagoon Shrimp, and Starlet Sea-anemone. Birdlife includes:
- Mallards (winter)
- Shoveler (winter)
- Teal (winter)
- Whimbrel (autumn/spring migrant)
- Curlew Sandpiper (autumn/spring migrant)
- Little Stint (autumn/spring migrant)
- Little Tern
- Ringed Plover
This recording of oyster catchers in Pennington Marshes is embedded from the Internet Archive. It was recorded in 1992.
The ponds and ditches on the marshes support a large variety of wetland plants and wildlife. The Deskbound Birder, Simon Colenut, maintains a blog detailing the bird life he has spotted in the Pennington and Keyhaven marshes. As of January 2017, 173 bird varieties are listed including the following British Birds Rarities:
- Red-breasted Goose
- Black-winged Stilt
- Lesser Sandplover
- Stilt Sandpiper
- Semipalmated Sandpiper
- Baird’s Sandpiper
- Lesser Yellowlegs
- Long-billed Dowitcher
- Great-spotted Cuckoo
More commonly spotted on the marshes are the following bird varieties:
- Black-tailed Godwit (winter wader)
- Curlew (winter wader)
- Lapwing (winter wader)
- Brent Geese
- Wheaters (spring)
- Whitethroats (spring)
- Linnets (summer)
- Stonechats (summer)
Plantlife along the marsh/sea wall include:
- Sea Pink
- Rock Samphire
- Sea Campion
- Sea Aster
Buglife can include:
- Wall Brown butterflies
- Painted Lady butterflies
- Roe Deer
Farmland, coppice, and residential areas in Pennington village and Upper Pennington
Walking along footpaths close to hedgerows, we have often seen pheasants.
According to the Hordle Village Design Statement, Kingfishers have been identified at Wainsford Farm and on the edge of Pennington Village. Kingfisher are amongst the Pennington birds covered by Annex 1 of the European Wild Birds Directive. As such, they are subject to special conservation measures to ensure their survival.
— PenningtonVillage.UK (@PenningtonHants) January 11, 2017
A number of the local area’s notable bird species are on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List – a list of 40 species that, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, are globally threatened.
These include the House Sparrow and the Linnet (at nearby Downton), the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (at nearby Newlands Manor Farm and Efford) the Marsh Tit (at Hordle village and Efford) and the Bullfinch (Golden Hill Woodlands). Six of the notable bird species in the Parish are county rare, including the Rock Pipit (sighted at Efford) and four are county scarce, including the Grey Heron (at Efford and Pennington Common).
Flora and fauna
Of the notable flowering plant species in the local area, four are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, including Corn Marigold (in Pennington) and Dodder (in nearby Everton); and five are classified as ‘near threatened’ amongst which is the Green Winged Orchid (recorded in Pennington). A further three are classified as county scarce, including the Cut-leaved Dead nettle (found nearby on the A337).
Bluebells – protected from intentional picking under the Wildlife and Countryside Act – are relatively common in Pennington. They are found in the copse west around the Upper Common nearby Wainsford, and in the pockets of coppice throughout Pennington.
Rivers, streams, and ground water
Pennington is bordered by Avon Water to the west and Yaldhurst stream to the east.
The Avon Water basin is a small basin draining the south-west edge of the New Forest. It rises within the southern confines of Burley and flows eastwards where it drains Holmsley Bog. The river continues its journey following the edge of Wootton Coppice Inclosure and Broadley Inclosure where it appears to have been significantly straightened before passing the perambulation boundary. From this point it flows through farmland via Sway Lakes and passes to the western side of Pennington (forming the western boundary of Pennington) before entering the Solent at Keyhaven. (Further information)
Winding through the area is a small stream which issues from Yaldhurst Copse to the north and runs down a small valley across the Yaldhurst farmland. This stream has long been taken as the official defining the boundary between Buckland/Lymington and Pennington (until the point that the stream meets Stanford Hill).
The British Geology Survey provides a detailed description of the surface geology under Pennington. A summary is provided below.
The bedrock under Pennington is sedimentary and is part of the Headon and Osborne Beds. It is made of clay, silt and sand. It was formed approximately 37 to 40 million years ago in the Palaeogene Period when the local environment was dominated by swamps, estuaries and deltas.
River terrace deposits of sand and gravel were formed up to 3 million years ago in the Quaternary Period when the local environment previously dominated by rivers. Where Avon Water and Yaldhurst stream have flooded, fine silt and clay has deposited in the vicinity of the river banks forming floodplain alluvium.
Pennington sits on a broadly flat plateau with shallow inclined gullies which are the natural water courses draining to Avon Water to the west and Yaldhurst stream to the east. St Marks Church is approximately 24m above sea level, whilst Gordleton Business Park is approximately 28m above sea level.