Have you ever wanted to help with the Trust’s research?

The Trust undertakes a number of UK-based research projects aimed at monitoring the status of a number of UK raptor species. Although the majority of this work is performed by members of our Conservation and Research Department, there are a number of other aspects to these projects we are unable to perform due to lack of manpower. To get around this problem, we have identified ways in which you can help.

Over the coming months we will be outlining these projects in more detail and giving you information on how you can get involved and contribute directly to our research and conservation work. The first of these relates to monitoring the movement, habitat use and survival of Kestrels.

As part of the Raptor Nest Box Project we have been ringing Kestrel chicks at our nest boxes across southern England since 2008. Since 2015, we have extended this work to include the fitting of a blue colour ring to each bird. To date, 347 birds have been ringed with these blue rings, each engraved with a unique, three-digit code which can be read using binoculars. Because each of these birds can now be identified in the field, resightings of these birds can be used to determine information such as how far the bird has moved from its nest site, the type of habitat it is using and, with enough data, estimate average survival.

Reading colour rings takes a bit of practice and some patience and, although rings can sometimes be read when the bird is hunting, it is much simpler when the bird is perched. Obviously this means first finding a bird with a ring, then waiting for it to perch and finally being able to get close enough to read the ring. This process can take a bit of time which is why we are seeking help from you.

We are looking for volunteers to help in making observations of colour-ringed Kestrels across the study area (roughly a 40km radius from the Trust). Although greater detail will be provided to all volunteers, as a basic summary, the work involves each volunteer being provided with a map and asked to visit a specific location on two occasions during the winter to look for Kestrels. Volunteers would then be required to spend a minimum of 20 minutes at each location looking for Kestrels and recording any they see, any that have colour-rings and, if possible, reading the colour-ring code.

So, if you are interested in taking part and would like further information, please contact us at conservation@hawkconservancy.org.

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