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Abernethy nature reserve's "amazing" live feed of goshawk nest a hit with visitors

By Niall Harkiss

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Male goshawk on nest at Loch Garten Nature Centre in Abernethy.
Male goshawk on nest at Loch Garten Nature Centre in Abernethy.

Visitors to RSPB Scotland’s Loch Garten Nature Centre have been enjoying live footage of an active goshawk nest within their Abernethy nature reserve.

A camera has been installed in a tree adjacent to the nest and the feed is also being streamed online to the RSPB’s YouTube channel. Infrared technology in the camera means that viewers from around the world can see what the birds are doing day and night.

Jess Tomes, Abernethy site manager for people at RSPB Scotland, said, "Visitors to the Nature Centre are thoroughly enjoying such an intimate look at the goshawks.

"We’re also thrilled that we can share this amazing footage with people from all over the world through our YouTube channel.

"It’s been fascinating watching the pair setting up their rather bulky nest and noting the differences between them – while we’ve yet to see both birds together we’ve been telling them apart by their different coloured eyes."

Goshawks have a wingspan of approximately 1.5m and larger females can weigh up to 2kg. Despite their bulk, they are known for being graceful fliers, even in dense woodland, where they weave between trees at high speed and capture prey in flight.

Because of this, they are often referred to as ‘phantoms of the forest’. They were driven to extinction in the UK in the late nineteenth century before escaped falconry birds re-established a population from the 1960s onwards.

The goshawk camera has been set up in addition to Loch Garten’s long-established osprey camera and another which was recently installed near a white-tailed eagle nest in the Cairngorms Connect partnership landscape.

Visitors to the Nature Centre can now view live footage of three of Scotland’s most iconic birds of prey in one place.

Fraser Cormack, warden for RSPB Scotland’s Abernethy nature reserve said, "Goshawks are exactly the type of bird we’d expect to see in a healthy pine forest, so we’re delighted to have them at Abernethy.

"While the camera doesn’t allow us to see the nest cup, the behaviour of the female indicates that she may indeed be on eggs, so it would be wonderful if we could welcome some chicks in the coming weeks.

"We’ve a longstanding tradition of being a home for ospreys at Loch Garten, so hopefully the goshawks will see the same level of success."

Goshawks often lay three or four eggs which take approximately 5-6 weeks to hatch. Young birds remain in the nest for a further 6-7 weeks beyond this, relying on their parents for food.

The camera was installed by Wildlife Windows with technical support from External Reality.

Funding was provided by the European Regional Development Fund through NatureScot.

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