New Forest Raven survey: April 2021 update

Russ writes:

This is an update on the New Forest Raven survey, co-ordinated by Wild New Forest and running over a two-year period (2020 and 2021). Further details on the survey can be found at the link below:

https://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/post/new-forest-raven-survey-2021-call-for-sightings


This April 2021 update provides information about the current population estimate, and a call for volunteers to get involved through reporting of any Raven sightings and monitoring of identified nests or territories.


An off-duty Raven keeping watch at a nest site in the northern New Forest in late Feb 2021


Current population estimate

We currently have 21 territories mapped, where there are multiple records of birds that are indicative of confirmed, probable or possible breeding. These are mapped below at low resolution to show the spatial distribution, although note this is only a preliminary interpretation and is subject to change. Four out of the six confirmed breeding records are on pylons around the northern and eastern forest fringe, with the remaining territories all relate to sites in tall (mostly non-native) conifers. Overall, it looks likely that the current Raven population in the New Forest is in the order of 20-25 territories.



There are a further eight or so locations that are historic breeding sites but with no evidence of breeding in 2020/21, or where there are scattered recent records but with no evidence of territorial behaviour.


How to get involved

We are keen to receive any further records of Ravens within the New Forest National Park up to 30 June 2021, especially where breeding can be confirmed. Records should include date/time, location (preferably with a six-figure grid ref), number of birds, and any pertinent behaviour, e.g. defending against passing raptors or carrying prey. This blog from 2020 contains some useful information about how to recognise adult, immature and juvenile birds: https://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/post/new-forest-raven-survey-mid-may-update


We would particularly welcome any reports from the following areas where we currently lack firm evidence of recent breeding: 1) the coastal strip from Lymington to Fawley, including Pylewell Park, Norley Inclosure, Exbury Gardens, Lepe and Badminston Common, 2) the Beaulieu area, including Hartford Plantation north to King’s Hat , 3) the Burley area, including Burley New Inclosure and west to Strodgemoor Bottom and Bisterne in the Avon Valley, and 4) the King’s Garn and Long Beech area, extending north to Longcross Plain.


In addition, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and volunteer-based activities can resume, we are calling for volunteers to monitor known nests or territories to confirm breeding and identify the number of fledged young where possible. The inaccessible location of Raven nests in our area means they are unlikely to be impacted by disturbance or persecution. In addition, Ravens are relatively easy to identify, so this is an ideal opportunity for those who might be interested in supporting wildlife survey and monitoring for the first time. Please contact us at info@wildnewforest.co.uk and indicate if you have a preferred local area or site based on the map above, and we will respond with further details. Finally, we will aim to provide a further update here in May 2021.


Raven in flight in the New Forest in March 2020, showing the distinctive wedge-shaped tail, long wings and heavy bill



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