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UK Projects

The Hawk Conservancy Trust’s conservation work in the UK aims to generate net positive outcomes for populations of British birds of prey. The species covered by our conservation work in the UK includes:

Barn Owl
Green
Tawny Owl
Amber
Kestrel
Amber
Red Kite
Green
Little Owl
Common Buzzard
Green
Raptor Nest Box Project (RNBP)

Project aim: To increase the breeding opportunities and populations of four target species of birds of prey

There are four species of British birds of prey that nest mainly in cavities like tree hollows or old buildings – Barn Owl, Kestrel, Tawny Owl and Little Owl. With increasing development and the intensification of agriculture, the number of nesting opportunities for cavity-nesting birds of prey has decreased over time. This project aims to identify suitable areas of habitat and increase the nesting opportunities and populations of the four target species of birds of prey.

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Kestrel conservation monitoring

Project aim: To measure the response of Kestrel populations to the installation of additional nest sites/boxes

Kestrels are in general decline across the UK and they are ‘Amber-listed’ as a species of concern. Although in some areas the local population is stable, in other parts of the UK this species has declined significantly since the 1990s and there is no clear reason why. This project aims to assess if lack of nest sites is limiting the number of Kestrels and how the population responds to the installation of additional nest sites/boxes.

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Nest box research

Project aim: To determine how variation in design and installation affect nest box internal characteristics of microclimate and parasite load. Assess impact on breeding success and productivity.

Nest boxes intended for use by a wide variety of bird species are an increasingly significant part of the UK landscape.  Installed to compensate for natural nest site loss or as a means of assisting and encouraging range expansion and population growth, nest boxes can have a significant impact on the population dynamics of some species. As part of the RNBP (see above) and to help in assessing the value of these boxes for nesting and over-winter roosting, this project explores how the use of differing construction materials, variation in box design and location of installation affect the microclimate and parasite loads of birds within boxes. The impact of each of these factors on breeding success and productivity is also determined.

Where do Red Kites and Buzzards live, and why?

Project aim: To understand how the distribution, breeding success and productivity of Red Kites and Buzzards relate to each other and different land use types.

Red Kite and Buzzard populations in the UK have increased over the last 20 years. To assess how their populations have changed and to gain insight into their abundance and distribution in south-central England, this project undertakes a programme of regular surveys. These surveys provide valuable information about the regional population sizes of these species as well as enabling an assessment of variation in breeding performance across different land use types. The data obtained from the work also provide opportunities to compare the relative nesting distributions across our study area and to assess the levels of competition and interaction between the two species.

Red Kite ecology

Project aim: To monitor and assess the existence, behaviour and productivity of Red Kites following the national re-introduction project

The status of the Red Kite in the UK has been improving since the early 1990s due to the very successful reintroduction programme. The Trust’s local reintroduction project for Red Kites finished in 2005 and the population of Red Kites in northwest Hampshire and other parts of southern England is increasing. This project aims to determine the population and nesting distribution of Red Kites within the study area and record breeding behaviour, productivity, inter-specific relationships and foraging behaviour. A particular focus is on feeding ecology of kites.

Impacts of changes to the food supply

Project aim: To measure how variation in small mammal populations affects breeding raptors

Small mammals form a significant component of the diet of many UK raptor species. For example, the productivity of Barn Owls is closely linked to the four-year cycle in abundance of Field Voles. This project uses a programme of live-capture-and-release of small mammals to assess how variation in their regional, seasonal and annual abundance influences the biology of UK raptor species.  Fluctuating prey availability may have many impacts and this project explores how this variation influences annual breeding success and productivity. How the reduced availability of preferred prey species affects hunting strategy and diet is also investigated. To support this work we also collect pellets and prey remains from nest boxes to assess annual variations in chick diet.

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©2017 Hawk Conservancy Trust