Even wildlife has trouble on the property ladder

Published Thursday 2 May 2013

Choosing your new home to raise a family is always a big decision, and it seems it was no different for a pair of goshawks in the New Forest.

Earlier this year, the New Forest Raptors Date with Nature team set up a camera on a nest site where a male goshawk had been seen renovating an old nest. But as is often the case, his DIY skills weren’t up to the female’s high standard; no eggs were laid, and the pair moved on.

After this false start, the project team from the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild have successfully located another pair of breeding goshawks in the New Forest, who have happily made their nest a home.

A camera was carefully installed, and now visitors to the Date with Nature project have been rewarded with great views on the TV screen of the three eggs in the nest, and incubation activity from the male and female.

Incubation is between 35 and 38 days so the first chicks should appear in early May.

Jeremy Peters, Date with Nature officer for the RSPB South East, said: 'In mid March the team had set up the camera on a goshawk nest where a male had been nest-building and a female had been seen at the nest too.

'Unfortunately she decided this nest was not to her liking and didn't lay any eggs. So after this false start the Date with Nature is back on track with the move of the camera to a different nest site.

'Over the past few days it has been brilliant to have such close-up views of this new pair of goshawks at the nest. We've already watched some great interaction between the male and female when they change over incubation duties.

'The excitement will build as we wait to see whether all three eggs will hatch, and then watch the chicks grow and develop. It really is a privilege to watch this ‘phantom of the forest’ at such close quarters."

Visitors to the Date with Nature at The Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst, can watch live footage of the goshawks in the nest, and follow events as the chicks hatch and learn to fly.

There are the reptiles and amphibians to see in the outside pods too. Staff and volunteers are on hand to answer questions and provide information on the wildlife that lives in the New Forest.

The Date with Nature project, a partnership between the RSPB, The New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild, has already welcomed over 1800 visitors to the Reptile Centre since it opened at the end of March.

The ‘Wild Wednesday’ children's activity days during the Easter holidays were a great success, and will run again in the May half-term and during the summer school holidays. 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 until 1 September, 10 am to 4.30pm.

Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.


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

Notes to Photo Editor:
Video and stills to accompany stories for this year’s New Forest Date with Nature can be downloaded at Carnyx Wild. Please register on the website in order to access the images. Copyright for all video and images belong to Carnyx Wild.

Note to editors:

  • A Date with Nature in the New Forest runs daily from 29 March to 2 September, 10 am to 4.30 pm.
  • Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.
  • The New Forest Gateway is a community resource and image library.  A compilation of Goshawk and Hobby highlights are viewable from previous years.  
  • From 29 March a live Nest Cam is viewable for those who are unable to visit the Reptile Centre.  
  • Carnyx Wild also provides a media section for journalists and broadcasters, which includes downloadable screen-grabs and video. To obtain video images and technical information contact Peter Dobson on 07711205341 or email peter@carnyx.tv.
  • The project is a partnership between the RSPB, Forestry Commission, New Forest National Park Authority and Carnyx Wild
  • The RSPB provides interpretation for visitors to the project.

The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. We are the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe with over one million members. Wildlife and the environment face many threats. Our work is focused on the species and habitats that are in the greatest danger. Our work is driven by the passionate belief that birds and wildlife enrich people's lives; the health of bird populations is indicative of the health of the planet, on which the future of the human race depends; we all have a responsibility to protect wildlife. The RSPB has more than one million members, over 17,000 volunteers, 1,772 FTE staff, more than 200 nature reserves, nine regional offices, a UK headquarters, three national offices and one vision - to work for a better environment rich in birds and wildlife.  Visit RSPB for more information

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants, tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For more information, visit New Forest Forestry Commission.

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.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Carnyx Wild’s role is to install the technology at the nest site with the Forestry Commission and then keep the wireless signal beaming across the forest back to the public viewing point at the Reptile Centre and through broadband to the world.   For a project overview or for general information on natural history filming contact Manuel Hinge on 0780 8015346 or manuel@naturalworlduk.com.

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.

Goshawk facts:

  • Known as the ‘phantoms of the forest’, only 500 breeding pairs of goshawks exist in UK, including around 20 pairs resident to the New Forest.
  • Because of persecution and a reduction in forests, goshawks became extinct as a breeding species in Britain at the end of the 1800s.
  • The current UK breeding population is now increasing and originates from birds that have either escaped captivity or were deliberately released.
  • Male is grey-brown with a striped tail and underparts. Has close-set yellow eyes and a white ‘eyebrow’, creating a fierce expression.
  • Female is roughly the size of a buzzard, the male is smaller both between 46-62cm..
  • Goshawks have a deep, powerful flight. When soaring, the wings are held flat with three or four feathers visible at the wing-tip.
  • Performs a distinctive rising and falling sky-dance.
  • When hunting, goshawks are remarkably agile and can weave through trees.
  • Lives and nests in large mature woods and forests. Also hunts in open countryside.
  • Uses cover to surprise prey -will make a rapid chase over a short distance before grabbing quarry with its talons.
  • Most British goshawks do not move far from their breeding sites. Young birds disperse in all directions in late summer. Some northern populations move south in autumn.
  • The oldest ringed bird survived for 19 years.

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