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Tune in to the New Forest’s feathered soap opera – 40ft up in the tree canopy

Tune in to the New Forest’s feathered soap opera – 40ft up in the tree canopy


Avid viewers can tune into the New Forest’s own soap opera this spring – following the ups and downs of rare birds of prey.

Live from 40ft up in the trees, last year’s soap addicts witnessed chilling cliff-hangers such as sibling rivalry, fatal diseases, murder and even cannibalism.

From Friday 5 April ‘A Date with Nature’ returns with live cameras placed high in the ‘Crown lands’ of the Forest. It shows 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 birds of prey journey through the breeding season live from the Forestry England managed New Forest Reptile Centre, on the A35 near Lyndhurst, or see it online at the Forestry England or the New Forest National Park Authority’s websites.

The project is a joint venture between the RSPB, Forestry England, New Forest National Park Authority and exclusively filmed by Carnyx Wild. Staff and volunteers will be on hand at the Centre to explain more about the birds’ behaviour and answer any questions on the native reptiles that can be viewed in ‘pods’ at the Centre. Other features of the project will include live footage from the bird feeder cameras that captures the goings-on near the Centre.

The project saw nearly 24,000 people visit the Centre last year. Many coming to the popular ‘Wild Wednesdays’ family events were inspired by the special qualities of the New Forest and gained understanding of how we have such rare and unique wildlife and landscape.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation and Outreach Manager for the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Date with Nature gives 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 look after it when they are out and about in the Forest.

‘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.’

Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century before slowly being reintroduced in the 1960s. In the New Forest just one pair was found in 2001 which has now grown to around 40 pairs. 

Andy Page, Head of Wildlife for Forestry England, is confident we will find a nest to put the cameras in before breeding starts. Andy said: ‘So far, the team have found three nests: A Goshawk, a Common buzzard and one which is currently unknown. They are all extremely remote, so the concentration now is how to get the live video across the forest to the visitor centre and on to the internet.

‘There are also other factors for us to consider, such as the height of the tree, as we have to climb up it to secure the filming equipment! We are hoping to have a live feed working in the next month or so, but there are still a few things to overcome.’

Children exploring at the ‘pods’ in New Forest Reptile Centre

Jenny Graham, Project Manager for the RSPB, said: ‘We’re all looking forward to the new season and wondering which bird of prey will be the star in 2019. Come and visit us at the Date with Nature to find out what’s happening for yourself. If you enjoy spending time in the New Forest, why not volunteer with us? We’re always looking for more nature loving people to join our friendly team and help inspire our visitors.’

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 10, 17 April, 29 May, 24, 31 July and 7, 14, 21 and 28 August.

A Date with Nature in the New Forest runs daily from 6 April to 1 September, 10 to 4.30pm. Entry to the Reptile Centre is free although donations for parking are welcome.

To find out more about volunteering, pop down to the site or contact Jenny on


Notes to picture editor

Children exploring at the ‘pods’ in New Forest Reptile Centre
Female goshawk

Notes to editors

About Forestry England

Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, including just over half of the New Forest National Park. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and are enhancing forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. We have around 1,000 staff, 20,000 volunteers and 80,000 members.

For more information visit Forestry England is an agency of the 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.

Visit to find out more.

Suzi Shilling, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646602

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