Juliet's Jottings

Goshawk - 20th February 2016

dead goshawkIn late January a dead bird of prey (right) was picked up in the Winter Garden by some of the gardeners who were working there. It was lying at the foot of a pine tree, and when they examined it they could not find any marks or damage and came to the conclusion that it must have collided with something. They measured the wing span (3 ft) and noticing that it had been ringed, removed the ring and gave it to me. The bird was identified as a Goshawk, a nationally scarce raptor, but with a good population in the New Forest. The information that I received showed that it was a female which had been ringed near Lyndhurst in May 2014. It was 604 days old when found.

GoshawkGoshawks (left) bred in small numbers in the UK until the end of the 19th century, but because of persecution and habitat destruction they then became extinct. They were re-introduced in the 1960s, and even though they are quite widespread across the UK in suitable locations they are very secretive and remain difficult to see. They nest in mature woodlands and appear to mate for life. They are powerful predators and feed on other birds and small mammals. As with many raptors, the female is quite a lot larger than the male. In the days before the bird was found several pigeon carcasses were noticed around the Gardens, a sure sign that some bird of prey was about. It had possibly been attracted by the large flock of  wood pigeons that are often present.

The RSPB, in its Date with Nature programme, has run a "nest cam" since  2006 at the Reptile Centre, just outside Lyndhurst on the Christchurch road, where the public can enjoy watching the birds at their nest. The programme will run again from  April this year.

‘We recently had some friends from London to visit and were looking for something to entertain our young children for the day. We decided to give Exbury Gardens a try and I thought it was wonderful. We had Sunday lunch in the restaurant and the food was far superior to other local attractions so compliments to the chef. Walking through the gardens was beautiful with lots of little pathways to explore. I have lived in the Romsey area for many years and always thought Exbury was a little out of the way but it only took me 20 minutes from the motorway. We will definitely be a regular visitor from now on.’

Philip Moulds, New Forest

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