The New Forest is famous for its animals, from the forest ponies and cattle that graze on it to the deer first established here for Royal parties to hunt. But there are many other less well-seen creatures that call the Forest home including one of the UK’s most elusive birds of prey – the goshawk or so-called ‘Phantom of the Forest’.
These birds are notoriously difficult to spot but over the next few months, you can watch them as they support their newly hatched chicks via a live stream direct from one of their nests here in the New Forest.
Goshawks, one of England’s larger birds of prey, returned to the New Forest in 2002 after a 120 year absence. Since then we have been working hard to learn more about these raptors and help to ensure that they are able to breed successfully.
With help from New Forest Carnyx, we have installed a live web cam at one of the nests and have been watching as the female successfully hatched four, white fluffy chicks. Both parents are now currently busy feeding their brood, collecting pigeons, corvids and squirrels to satisfy their rapidly growing chicks.
Andy Page, Head of Wildlife, Forestry England South District, had this to say about the project:
"It is always incredibly satisfying to see the arrival of new chicks, not to mention a bit nail-biting waiting to see how many successfully fledge.
Over the years we have been closely monitoring these birds, counting how many are successfully reared each year and looking at the conditions these birds need to continue to thrive.
Every year it takes time and dedication to locate the birds and identify nesting sites so we can exclude them from any ongoing forestry work. Given that these birds nest high up in some of the taller trees in the forest, monitoring them also involves a lot of climbing! It is not uncommon for me or one of the team to be seen clambering 20 meters into the upper branches of a large conifer tree to check on the birds!
As well as recording breeding sites, each year we count, ring, measure and weigh the new goshawk chicks. The whole process of ringing and data recording is quick and painless and in many instances, the parent birds are unaware we have even visited the nest, as they can be away hunting for long periods
The data we collect helps us to learn much more about this species here in the New Forest, including how well they are fed and whether the forest offers the right conditions to sustain the population.
Placing rings on the birds helps us to track how far out the birds travel and settle. We also look at how well the goshawk has integrated with other birds of prey in the Forest, such as common buzzards and sparrowhawks."
"We are constantly learning more about these incredible birds and understanding the important role they play in the life of the forest. I am fascinated by how goshawks and other forest raptors utilise the woods we manage and find the levels that enable them to co-exist alongside each other." - Andy Page.