Suburban Safari: Cake by the Coast 

Suburban Safari: Cake by the Coast 

by Katie Isham.

This Suburban Safari explores somewhere a little further afield. In fact, we’re venturing into a PO postcode. Don’t leave! I promise it’s for a good cause. Or two good causes in fact. 

Next week sees the glorious relief of half-term for many students and teachers. Blessed autumnal days to get outside, soak in some vitamin D and enjoy some fresh air. Or you might scrabble to find activities to occupy idle minds after the first weekend. Either way, here’s just the venture for all. 

Saturday 23rd October is the first day of a week-long birdwatching audit. Again, it might not sound as thrilling as Alton Towers, but bear with me. This is the type of purposeful yet calming activity that is good for the soul. Bird Aware Solent are flying the Great Coastal Birdwatch movement from the 22nd until the 30th October, so pick a time that suits you. 

But what do we need to do you may wonder? Here comes the outdoorsy bit. 

Pick a spot along the coast. Sit there for an hour. Count the coastal birds you see. 

That’s the magpied shiny bits from the instructions. You can pad it out however you choose. Go for a walk between counting. Make a day of it. Involve the wee ones in a nature scavenger hunt. Take a flask of lemon squash, some binoculars and settle in for the long haul. But remember to record your findings on the handily prepared tick sheet and the website after.

By sitting there for an hour, you can collect valuable data to support protecting bird species and green spaces. You’ll also learn a little something and have a mindful moment. Think about the times you’ve witnessed something beautiful in nature, something so wonderful that it reminds you how intricate and elaborate the web of life is. This is an opportunity to witness something new, something that makes you gasp. You’ll be amazed how quickly you invest in the avian drama of spotting a lapwing to tick off a sheet. 

But how do you choose where to set up? Here in Southampton, we’re in prime position for selecting any number of points along the coast. We’re spoilt for choice. But I have a favourite spot for you. 

Titchfield Haven. 

It really is a haven. For native fowl, migratory birds and mostly for those of us who love a little wander, a good slice of cake and a lovely sit down by the sea. 

This is a nature reserve run by Hampshire County Council for the community. If you want to delve deeper, you can pay the entry fee to the site to walk around the ponds and tributaries of the River Meon, ducking into hides to enhance your twitching talent. The boardwalks and paths circle this wonderful and significant haven for a whole host of winged friends, not to mention the odd water vole and insects galore. 

But you can also choose to conduct your check on the free side of the reserve. Across the road from the centre is the sea wall. Find a spot along this vast walkway and poise yourself ready for the incoming flights. This side there’s the added bonus of lapping waves and jangling sailboats to calm an addled brain. 

Once you’ve exhausted yourself through counting and sitting (more tiring than you think) some good refreshments are in order. And so we come to the second good cause. 

Attached to the nature reserve is a café. This is a delight of a café. Great cakes, other snacks, gift shop adjacent and the best views over the harbourside. It’s also a café on the endangered list. There is talk of having to sell the buildings. This would be a disaster for the walkers and sitters that frequent the site. On your visit, fill in the survey to share your thoughts with the powers that be. 

Titchfield Haven is the perfect spot for birdwatching and a café retreat. This week’s Great Coastal Birdwatch is the ideal opportunity to combine these hobbies while indulging in some mindful sea air. Enjoy it whilst it’s here. 


Cost: Free to wander and watch the local (and migratory) birds. Going deeper into the reserve, will incur an entrance fee. Refreshments at the café can be purchased along with a whole host of goodies in the gift shop. 

Accessibility: Reach Titchfield Haven by following the Meon Road towards the shore after the A27 heading east from the M27. The coastal paths are paved and hug the shingle beach. Paths and boardwalks allow access to the nature reserve. 

Facilities: A touchy point. Toilets, shop and café currently available at the reserve. Enjoy the facilities and make that feeling known by completing the survey.


  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: