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New Forest Raptor Monitoring Programme

The New Forest Raptor Monitoring Programme (NFRMP) aims to monitor the breeding raptor assemblage in the New Forest National Park, primarily through field-based observation of breeding pairs and collection of data on population size, distribution, and productivity. The observational data will be supplemented by ringing and tracking data that aim to provide new insights into foraging movements and post-fledging dispersal.

 

The programme will continue and build upon long-term raptor monitoring work co-ordinated by Andy Page (Head of Wildlife Management at Forestry England) in recent decades. Collected data will be used to inform future forest management and will contribute to national schemes including annual UK Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) reports. An additional objective is to retain and recruit experienced local raptor fieldworkers, and to train additional volunteer fieldworkers.

The geographic scope of the NFRMP will be the New Forest Crown Lands, which are managed by Forestry England and cover ~27,000 ha of land in the core of the New Forest, but with scope for additional work on adjacent private land within the New Forest National Park as required.

 

The initial focus will be on five species that occur annually as breeding species in the core of the New Forest: Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, and Hobby. Populations of these five species in and around the New Forest are likely influenced by a complex interplay of factors including forest management, climate change, prey availability, intra-guild competition and predation, and illegal persecution.

 

Two of the above-named species (Honey Buzzard and Hobby) are features of the New Forest Special Protection Area (SPA), and both these two species and Goshawk are monitored at national level by the RBBP and protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

 

Several other species of breeding and wintering raptor species occur in the New Forest National Park, some of these are already well monitored (e.g. breeding Peregrine and wintering Hen Harrier), while others have yet to become fully established as breeding species following recent reintroductions (e.g. Red Kite and White-tailed Eagle).

NFRMP fieldwork will focus on the March to August period each year. The project team comprises experienced raptor fieldworkers Andy Page and Tom Saunders, supported by BTO licensed ‘A’ ringers Marcus Ward and Nigel Jones and a small number of experienced volunteers. In future years it is intended that a novel component of the programme will involve GPS tracking of selected raptor species, initially targeting juvenile Goshawks under BTO licence. 

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