Milton Common is 45 hectare (453,500 sq. m) mosaic of grassland, scrub and wetland habitats.

The eastern footpath through the common running alongside Langstone Harbour forms part of The Solent Way.

Location

Moorings Way, Milton, Portsmouth PO4 8JY

Facilities

The common is open to the public at all times. It is next to the Eastern Road and Moorings Way. There may be parking in Moorings Way, the road at the southern edge of the Common. So called because of the large number of houseboats that used to be moored there.

There are five-a-side football goals for informal play to the western end of the site located near to a seated picnic area.

History

Once an area of the Langstone Harbour mudflats known as Milton Lake, the land was reclaimed as a landfill site between 1962-1970. By 1974 it had been capped, grassed over and in the succeeding years nature has been allowed to move in leading to a surprising diversity of wildlife.

Milton Common Wildlife

Milton Common grassland

The common is the only large area of natural grass on Portsea Island and is a haven for insects and small mammals. Butterflies, whose caterpillars feed on native grasses, include the Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Wall Brown and Gatekeeper, as well as Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma, whose caterpillars feed on the large healthy stands of stinging nettle.

Other insects include several species of grasshoppers and the Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima), which was introduced to the common when the original Eastney colony was threatened by development.

The grassland provides food and shelter for small mammals, such as the Field Vole, which eats the grass and is fed on in turn by Kestrels, owls and foxes. Common Shrews feed on the abundant insect life in the grass.

Bramble thickets are the other major habitat, valuable nesting sites for many small birds and providing shelter for migrants in spring and autumn such as the Chetti’s Warbler, an elusive species usually identified by its distinctive call and Goldfinches. These colourful inches a scare sight in many places can be seen in flocks darting about the brambles and trees. Brambles are an important food supply and shelter for many other species, including Long Tailed Field Mice, Viviparous Lizards and slow worms that live here.

The brambles have a strong foothold on-site and have started to take-over in recent years. As part of positive habitat management to maintain and improve biodiversity onsite the Milton Common Countryside Officer undertaking encroachment control with the Milton Common Volunteers.

Milton Common lakes

The three lakes support many aquatic species. In summer, dragonflies can be seen hawking over the lakes accompanied by Swallows, Swifts and House Martins, all attracted by the small flies and midges emerging from the water.

Around the lakes the reed beds provide shelter, nesting and food for many birds, such as Willow Warblers, Swans, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Tufted Duck. More timid birds like the Great Crested Grebe and Dabchick tend to stay in open water. The reedbeds and brambles barriers provide a safe barrier for the wildlife in the pond to feel minimal disturbance but allowing the public to see and enjoy their presence.

In winter, the reeds shelter Long Tailed and Bearded Tits and many other migrant birds on passage south.

Milton Lake mudflats

The intertidal mudflats running alongside Milton Common provides invaluable refuge and forage for coastal birds including Curlews, Oystercatchers and the migratory Brent Geese. As it is underwater for significant portions of the day, the birds depending on these mudflats to survive have only short windows in the day in which to feed.

It is politely requested that when possible, users of the Common divert away from the coastal path into the common when the tide is out, to minimise disturbance to these often-skittish feeding birds and keep dogs away from the shore.

Milton Common Volunteers

The Milton Common Ranger runs a conservation volunteer group for anyone who’d like to join in, helping to improve and maintain the site for wildlife. For more information about volunteering here or elsewhere in Portsmouth please email parks@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Documents