DNA probe to trace goshawk heritage in Kielder Water & Forest Park

PUBLISHED: 00:16 27 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:57 20 February 2013

DNA probe to trace goshawk heritage in Kielder Water & Forest Park

DNA probe to trace goshawk heritage in Kielder Water & Forest Park

Goshawk chicks in Kielder Water & Forest Park are having their mouths swabbed in a bid to discover more about the birds' blood lines in the Northumberland wilderness.

Goshawk chicks in Kielder Water & Forest Park are having their mouths swabbed in a bid to discover more about the birds' blood lines in the Northumberland wilderness.


The bird, once persecuted to extinction and which reappeared in Kielder in the 1960s, is one of the rarest in the UK and a special licence is required simply to visit its nesting sites.


Now monitoring by the Forestry Commission, which includes ringing, weighing and measuring chicks is being stepped up to include taking a DNA sample.


Martin Davison, a Forestry Commission ornithologist, said: 'Blood tests carried out two decades ago found that the local population derived from a single female - presumably the one which arrived in the forest 50 years ago. We are now seeking scientific proof that new bloodlines have since come into the forest. We expect the results to confirm that the bird is drawing on a wider gene pool of unrelated birds. That is important because it makes for a healthier and more viable population. Goshawks are magnificent birds and it's good see the population is stable.'


Rangers are staging three goshawks walk to raise the curtain on the Wild at Kielder season which celebrates the forest's amazing wildlife. Male goshawks bid to impress potential mates with a thrilling "sky dance" in spring and walks take place at 10.30am and 1.30pm (March 5) and 9am to noon (March 6). Booking is required on 01434 220242 and the cost is 6 adults, 5 concessions and 16 for a family of four.

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