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Fancy a new hobby for the holidays?

Last modified: 31 July 2013

Hobby chick's first feed

Image: Carnyx Wild

The goshawk chicks, which have been the star of the show for the New Forest Date with Nature since April, may have flown the nest, but the fun’s not over yet – there is now an exciting new nest to watch.

The popular Date with Nature raptorcam has turned its attention to a summer visitor to the New Forest – the hobby.

Approximately 2,200 pairs of hobbies fly from Africa to the UK every summer to breed. The New Forest is a stronghold for hobbies in Hampshire, and the heathlands and wet river valleys of southern England are where the majority of hobbies occur.

Until September 1, a Date with Nature in the New Forest will be filming one of these nests, beaming the live footage into the Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst and online for people to enjoy.

The hobby nest has two chicks in it, which hatched in the middle of July. The well-placed camera will give a rare insight into their private lives as they raise their chicks to first flight.

Jeremy Peters, Date with Nature officer for the RSPB South East, said: “Having a nestcam on a hobby nest is fantastic news. We weren't sure if it would happen, as we haven't had a successful hobby nest since 2009, so to have a nest this year is brilliant after a four year wait and just in time for the start the summer holiday is a real bonus.

“The staff and volunteers are really excited about being able to watch the two young chicks grow and hopefully fledge off the nest. The hobby is such a great bird to watch in flight and at the nest, and this nestcam provides a rare opportunity to see this."

Peter Dobson, from Carnyx Wild who provides and maintains the raptorcam equipment, explains how this year’s nestcam has been made possible: “The only way we were able to consider this remote nest was due to new technology.

“Developing a unique and bespoke system using satellite technology, batteries and solar power enabled us to beam the high quality video twenty two thousand miles into space and back before publishing it live onto the internet - so perhaps this year’s hobbies really are flying high.”

But the hobbies are not the only attraction on this date - lapwings, curlews, redshanks, snipe, and woodlarks also live safely within the protection of the New Forest National Park, along with fascinating reptiles and amphibians. From common lizards, adders and smooth snakes to sand lizards and natterjack toads, you'll be able to see them all in the special reptile 'pods'.

The ‘Wild Wednesday’ children's activity days, which were a great success last year, will run again during the summer school holidays. These free activities, which will be packed full of fun and creativity, are inspired by the wildlife and nature found in the New Forest.

The Date with Nature project, a partnership between the RSPB, The New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Carnyx Wild, has already welcomed over 9,000 visitors to the Reptile Centre since it opened at the end of March.

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

Online viewers can watch the action live via the nest camera, and get all the latest news, at while visitors to the Reptile Centre can also explore the area and talk to the partnership staff and volunteers who are on hand to help.

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