Reality TV of the feathered kind returns to New Forest


Published Wednesday 29 March 2017

Nature’s own reality TV is back from Saturday 1 April, giving visitors a glimpse into the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the New Forest life of rare birds.

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.

Visitors will be able to watch a pair of raptors 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 on the native reptiles that can be ’viewed in ‘pods’ at the Centre.

The project run by the RSPB, the New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild, saw over 21,500 people visit the Centre last year. Many coming to the popular ‘Wild Wednesdays’ family events were inspired by the wildlife and nature found in The New Forest and thousands more watched online.

Andy Page, Head of Wildlife Management at the Forestry Commission added: ‘The New Forest is home to some of our rarest and most enigmatic birds, thanks to the careful management of this beautiful landscape. There has been a steady increase in the number of goshawks and we now have 40 nesting pairs thriving here in the National Park. A combination of the special qualities of the Forest, with its varied habitat, that we keep in good condition, along with an abundance of food is helping these birds to successfully breed.’

Liess Baadj, Project Manager for the RSPB said: ‘Our volunteers love sharing their passion and knowledge for wildlife and hope to inspire people to protect nature. We are always delighted to have new volunteers willing to share their experiences and lucky to have this unique project in the Forest enabling a real insight into the raptors of the local area.’

Jim Mitchell Interpretation and Outreach Manager for the New Forest National Park Authority said: ‘There is so much we have to show here, giving visitors a unique wildlife spectacle of the rare bird inhabitants in the Forest. 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.’

Richard Daponte, Recreation Ranger for the Forestry Commission, said: ‘Wednesdays in the school holidays are particularly good for younger visitors, as we run our Wild Wednesday’s which are free for children to take part in and packed full of fun and creativity.’

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 12, 19 April, 31 May, 30 July and 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 August.

From June, organisers are hoping to film a pair of New Forest hobbies, which breed later in the season, and hope they nest in areas accessible to be filmed.

Other features at Date with Nature 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 1 April to 3 September, 10.30 am to 4pm. Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.

You can watch live footage of the birds in their nest online at and

Notes to Photo Editor:

A female goshawk in the New Forest.

Notes to Editor:

About The RSPB

The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

The RSPB is a registered charity in England & Wales 207076, in Scotland SC037654

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

Suzi Shilling, Communications Assistant
Tel: 01590 646650

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