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The Phantom of the Forest at Symonds Yat Rock

28 April 2010

Tony Whitehead
Public Affairs Officer

This year the RSPB and Forestry Commission are giving visitors to the Symonds Yat Rock in Gloucestershire the chance to see some of the UK's most impressive birds of prey.

As part The RSPB's Date with Nature project, staff and volunteers will be on hand at the Forestry Commission owned viewpoint to show visitors the impressive range of wild birds of prey that can be see above the Wye Valley.

These include the world famous peregrine falcons that have nested locally since the early 1980's and also goshawks, an elusive bird know as the “phantom of the forest”.

Matt Brierly, RSPB’s People Engagement Officer for Gloucestershire said: “The Forestry Commission’s Symonds Yat Rock has always taken people's breath away – the spine-tingling cliff top vista, the vertigo inducing drop. That giddy sensation you get in the pit of your stomach feels like a primeval reminder that gravity, people and plummets don’t mix. However, this year the RSPB will be at Symonds Yat toasting creatures that have aerial mastery down to a fine art.

“It’s a dead cert you’ll see Peregrine falcons – the planet’s fastest living thing – which is probably reason enough to pop along and have a sneaky peep through RSPB’s telescope. However, this year RSPB have got another surprise for you up their sleeve – our phantom of the forest, the goshawk.”

Goshawks are larger cousins of the more common sparrowhawk and hunt through the forest at speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour along a memorised route. Although they are elusive, the RSPB hopes to be able to show visitors these spectacular birds.

Matt Brierley; “Speed, stealth and sophistication – that’s a goshawk. They are so exciting to watch. So, come along, have a natter, and try your luck spotting two of Britain’s most enjoyable birds of prey.”

Heather Lilley from the Forestry Commission said "It's great that the RSPB are on site to offer visitors a fantastic opportunity to view these birds and to explain more about them and their habits and  habitats.

Through the Forestry Commission's sensitive management of the surrounding diverse woodlands and open space these fabulous birds of prey return to nest here year after year".

RSPB are at Symonds Yat every day from April 1st to 31st August.


    1. The RSPB's Date with Nature project at Symonds Yat shows and promotes birds of prey to visitors. It is a joint project with the Forestry Commission who own and manage Symonds Yat Rock. At this world famous viewpoint a rich variety of birds of prey can be viewed.

    2. Patrolling peregrines, clashing antlers and strutting black grouse are just some of the memorable experiences that can be enjoyed at an RSPB Date with Nature event. Last year, half a million people got close to amazing species including red kites, avocets and puffins at RSPB Date with Nature sites around the UK. The 2010 season promises to be even more exciting, with opportunities to see wildlife including rutting deer, water voles and basking sharks, and the RSPB will be on hand to show everyone the incredible wildlife spectacles. For more information visit

    3. The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England.  Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.