New Forest raptorcam gets ready to roll
Visitors to the National Park have the chance to take a privileged peek into the wilder side of Forest life this spring.
Using high-tech ‘raptorcam’ technology, A Date with Nature will show live footage of birds of prey in their nests as they breed, hatch eggs, feed chicks and teach their young how to fly.
The cameras start rolling from Friday 30 March at the New Forest Reptile Centre, on the A35 just outside Lyndhurst and are streamed live at the Centre and online.
A Date with Nature is a joint venture between RSPB, Forestry Commission, New Forest National Park Authority and Carnyx Wild.
Staff and volunteers will be on hand at the Reptile Centre daily throughout spring and summer to explain more about the bird’s behaviour and answer any questions. Visitors can also see a range of native reptiles in ‘pods’ or view footage of common small birds on the ‘feeder cam’.
Last year more than 23,000 people visited the Centre to experience nature close-up, with the ‘Wild Wednesdays’ family events particularly popular. These free drop-in events are running on Wednesdays during school holidays again this year.
Rosie Bowman, Visitor Experience Officer 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 so if you’re interested to come and lend a hand we would love to hear from you.
‘Wednesdays in the school holidays are particularly good for younger visitors, as we run our Wild Wednesdays which are free for children to take part in and packed full of fun and creativity for the whole family.’
Finding a bird of prey nest for the cameras to film is not an easy task, but with goshawk numbers building steadily in the New Forest from just one pair in 2001 to about 40 pairs, the chances are improving every year.
Andy Page, Head of Wildlife for the Forestry Commission, said: ‘The difficulty we have is that goshawks will often have two or three nests in an area and we have to determine which one will become this season’s preferred nest for breeding. The male goshawk may refurbish one nest with sticks but then their female mate may opt for a less obvious, sparser nest. There are also other factors for us to consider, such as the distance of a potential nest from the Reptile Centre and also the height of the tree, as we have to climb up it to secure the filming equipment!’
Jim Mitchell, New Forest National Park Authority Interpretation and Outreach Manager, 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.’
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. The dates are 4, 11 April, 30 May, 25 July and 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 August.
A Date with Nature in the New Forest runs daily from 30 March to 2 September, 10.30 am to 4pm. Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.
You can watch live footage online at newforestnpa.gov.uk/datewithnature.
Notes to photo editor
Volunteer at the New Forest Reptile Centre, Lyndhurst.
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 www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.
Matt Stroud, Communications Officer
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650