Join us for a Date With Nature


Published Tuesday 8 April 2014

From Saturday 5 April, visitors will get a privileged peek into the wilder side of New 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.

Watch LIVE video from the nest here.

Visitors will be able to watch a pair of goshawks journey through the breeding season live from the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst or see it online. Staff and volunteers will be on hand in the centre to explain more about the bird’s behaviour and answer any questions.

This year the female goshawk has four eggs, the last of which was laid last Wednesday or Thursday. Her attentive mate is looking after the eggs when she leaves the nest. The chicks are likely to appear in May.

Last year, the project run by the RSPB, the New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild, saw nearly 13,500 people visit the Centre to watch the drama unfold, a rise of 2,228 compared to 2012. The project’s website visitor numbers last year showed a rise of 15 per cent.

Jeremy Peters, project officer for the RSPB said: “For the next five months we will be at the Reptile Centre every day giving visitors the chance to witness the goshawks rearing their young and to explain what’s happening in the nest – seeing people’s reactions as they watch the raptorcam is priceless.

“Birds of prey are just one species found in the New Forest; the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife. 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.”

Lead ranger at the New Forest National Park Authority, Gillie Hayball, said: “‘After a very successful 2013 for Date with Nature, we are looking forward to giving even more people a unique insight into the lives on the Forest’s birds of prey this summer.

“Visitors can also discover how important the New Forest is for ground nesting birds, with an exhibition of   fantastic sculpted models of the birds in their natural habitats. Although the Reptile Centre is open seven days a week, make sure you come along to our Wild Wednesdays where there will be fun activities and extra trails to help all the family enjoy and explore more of this special place.”

Wild Wednesday events run every Wednesday during the Easter and summer half terms and the summer school holidays, with fun activities for the whole family. This year the dates are 9, 16 April, 28 May, 30 July and 6, 13, 20 and 27 August.

These free activities, which will be packed full of fun and creativity, are inspired by the wildlife and nature found in the New Forest.

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 nest boxes intended for our smaller woodland birds, and the project staff are eagerly waiting to see which species will nest in there.

A Date with Nature in the New Forest runs daily from 5 April to 1 September, 10.30 am to 4.00 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 here.

- ends -

Notes to photo editor:

A female goshawk.

Notes to editor:

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.

Visit to find out more

Media Contact

Sue Royal, RSPB South East media officer, Tel: 01273 763610; Mob: 07801 135472

More articles in the news archive.

New Forest National Park Authority news feed


image-fade-right image-fade-left