11/03/2009
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Goshawks on the flight path for launch of Kielder wildlife season!

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A campaign to celebrate stunning wildlife gets off to a flying start as experts bid to track down the magnificent Goshawk in Kielder Water & Forest Park. The formidable bird of prey, which became extinct in the 19th century but which has since clawed its way back after being reintroduced 50 years ago, has made the 62,000-hectare (155,000-acre) Northumberland wilderness a key stronghold. Now the Forestry Commission is offering a rare chance to see the creature engage in its astonishing courtship ritual, when males strain every sinew to win over females with an acrobatic "sky dance".

Goshawk
Goshawk, Forest of Dean, Glos (Photo: Lewis Thomson)

A trek is being staged on 29th March as part of Wild about Kielder season, which is being co-ordinated by the Kielder Partnership. Scores of other events are also planned, offering a glimpse into the privates lives of animals and to nurture a passion for conservation in young and old alike. Leading the Goshawk safaris will be Martin Davison, who for over 20 years has striven to keep tabs on the species for the Forestry Commission. Every spring he dons his helmet and protective gloves to ring steely-eyed chicks, hopeful that they will mature to perform their own 'coming-of-age' sky dance in future years.

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Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said: "You can travel far and wide before you see something as thrilling a male Goshawk trying to woo a mate. It's salutary to think that this spectacle was missing from the British countryside for decades after numbers collapsed due to persecution. But today the news is much better and Kielder is a haven, with a good stable population of about 20 pairs." Walkers will be taken to prime spots to maximise their chances of seeing the bird in flight — a bright breezy day is perfect. Other Wild about Kielder events include nights devoted to bats and owls at Kielder Castle and a chance to spy a badger.

Full listings are:

  • 29th March Goshawk walk - 9am to 12 noon, Kielder Castle, £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 18th April Deer safari (also 16/30 May) - 6.30am to 8.30pm, Kielder Castle - £12 adult and £10 concessions (including breakfast).
  • 3rd May Dawn chorus - 5am to 8am, Kielder Castle - £12 adult and £10 concessions (including breakfast).
  • 9th May Badger watch - 7pm to 9pm, Warksburn picnic site - £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 8th May Owl night - 8pm to 10pm, Greenhaugh School, near Bellingham - £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 17th May Owl night - 8 pm to 10 pm, Kielder Castle, £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 23rd May Bat night - 9 pm to 10.30pm , Kielder Castle - £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 24th May Lakeside wildlife - 2 pm to 4pm, Kielder Castle - £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 27th May Deer safari (also 13 June) - 8 pm to 10 pm, Kielder Castle - £5 adult and £3 concessions, £12 family of four.
  • 30th May Family Wildlife Day, Leaplish. Free.

NOTE: Booking is required on 01434 250209 for all these events except the Family Wildlife Day at Leaplish. For further details visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northeastengland.

Written by: Forestry Commission