It’s back! The New Forest raptorcam gets ready to roll…

Published Thursday 21 March 2013

From Friday March 29, New Forest visitors will get a privileged peek into the wilder side of Forest life.

A Date with Nature in the New Forest uses cutting-edge ‘raptorcam’ technology to show birds of prey in their nests as they breed, hatch eggs, feed chicks and teach young how to fly.

First up is a pair of goshawks, whose journey through the breeding season will be beamed live into the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst and broadcast online. Staff and volunteers will be on hand in the centre to explain more about the bird’s behaviour and answer any questions.

Last year, the project run by the RSPB, the New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild, saw more than 10,000 people visit the Centre to watch the drama unfold, and the project’s website clocked up 581,000 visits.

Jeremy Peters, project officer for the RSPB said: “For the next five months we will be wowing people by giving them a privileged peek into this wild and inspiring world. We’ll be at the Reptile Centre everyday to explain what’s happening in the nest – seeing people’s reactions as they watch the raptorcam is just priceless.

“Birds of prey are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wildlife found in the New Forest; the area is home to a countless variety of creatures. We hope this project will inspire people to learn more about nature, including how best to avoid disturbing species when visiting the Forest during the breeding season.”

The goshawk pair are currently busy nest building. The female is due to lay eggs at the beginning of April, with chicks likely to appear in May.

Lead Ranger at the New Forest National Park Authority, Gillie Hayball, said: “This is the seventh year the Date with Nature project has filmed goshawks in the New Forest. The numbers have been building steadily from just one pair in 2002 to about 20 pairs now. The increase demonstrates the good management of the forest and the work that goes into making it a better place for wildlife.”

From June, a pair of New Forest hobbies, which breed later in the season, will take their turn in the limelight.

Other features of the project will include live footage from the ‘Feeder Cam’ which will capture the goings on around the bird feeders near the centre. A camera has also been set up in one of the nestboxes intended for our smaller woodland birds, and the project staff are eagerly awaiting to see which species will nest in there.

Every Wednesday during the Easter and summer half terms and the summer school holidays, the project will be running ‘Wild Wednesday’ events for children.  These free activities, which will be packed full of fun and creativity, are inspired by the wildlife and nature found in the New Forest.

A Date with Nature in the New Forest runs daily from 29 March to 1 September, 10 am to 4.30 pm. Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.

People can watch live footage of the birds in their nest online at: www.newforestgateway.org.

-ends-

About the New Forest National Park Authority
Protect - Enjoy - Prosper
The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

A Date with Nature in the New Forest project timeline:

  • Goshawk nest-building March
  • Goshawk camera installed mid to end March.
  • Event open 29 March – 1 September.
  • Egg-laying March/April.
  • Eggs hatch May.
  • Goshawk chicks fledge June.
  • Hobby nest refurbishment early June.
  • Egg-laying June.
  • Eggs hatch July.
  • Chicks fledge August.

For more information please contact:
Sam Stokes, RSPB South East media officer, t: 01273 763610

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