TWITCHERS can get a bird’s eye view of an elusive inhabitant of the New Forest thanks to a new initiative.
Experts have installed a ‘nest cam’ to allow people to follow the fortunes of a pair of goshawks as they seek to successfully raise and care for their young at the top of one of the forest’s tall trees.
The return of goshawks to the New Forest is a conservation success story. Absent for over 120 years, the first pair returned in 2002 and since then, a team at Forestry England have been working hard to help ensure that they are able to breed successfully and today, there are around 45 pairs.
Despite living in the New Forest all year round, goshawk are notoriously difficult to spot, earning them the nickname of ‘phantoms of the forest’. Extremely agile fliers, they silently weave between trees and shrubs in pursuit of prey.
The nest cam, sponsored by Tropic Skincare, provides a unique view on the hidden world of the goshawk from the canopy of a 60ft Douglas fir tree.
Viewers will be able to watch as the pair attempt to successfully hatch, protect, feed and fledge their young.
Each year, Forestry England’s wildlife team closely monitor the fortunes of the birds and this year they will also study the nest cam footage for breeding and nesting behaviours.
Before chicks fledge, the team ring, measure and weigh them to assess how they are developing and whether the forest offers the right conditions to sustain the population.
Rings recovered from these birds helps the team understand where the birds disperse to and, as their population spreads beyond the Forest across Hampshire and neighbouring counties, the factors behind their continuing success.
Andy Page, head of wildlife, Forestry England South District, said: “The return of goshawks to the New Forest is a real conservation success story and it’s great to see them thriving here.
“We spend many hours each year monitoring these fascinating birds to help ensure that our forest management activities support them. Our nest monitoring of this top predator’s gives us a good indication of the overall health of our woodland as a place to support a diversity of species.”