Here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, we’re all about birds. But it’s not just birds of prey that call our grounds home! James Knight from our Bird Team tells us about the fascinating songbirds that you can see, and hear, around the Trust.
‘As a member of the Bird Team that lives on site, I am incredibly fortunate to be able to wander around the grounds outside of opening hours.
As part of our duties once the Trust is closed, we make sure that all of the birds are healthy and safe before putting them to bed for the night. Often while completing our final checks we are treated to a very different side to the grounds; one as simple as seeing the myriad of oranges, greens and blues colouring the sky over Reg’s Wildflower Meadow as the sun sets, or watching the evening mists rolling in through the valley making the very ground around us disappear!
There are simply too many moments like this to note, but it is one of those magical aspects of the Trust that we feel so privileged to be able to share with our amazing visitors when you come along to our evening events, be it the setting sun on our African Sunset Safari, or actually seeing the full transition of the grounds from day to night during Sky Hunters at Sunset!
However with all this said, there is one aspect of the Trust that I believe often gets overlooked. Of course, when you come to the Trust usually it is to help support the work we do as well as to see and learn about our amazing birds – rightfully so, it is what we are all here for! But as I’m sure many of our regular visitors can attest, being surrounded by countryside is just as special as all the birds.
The Trust is home to some amazing wildlife, but none more so that the wild songbirds. They bring the grounds to life in such a beautiful way and sometimes it’s easy to miss or hard to fully take in at the time, recent studies are starting to show the calming and restorative effects that being out in nature and listening to bird song can have on us.
On your next visit I encourage you to come along to our Mindful Moment which takes place at the top of our grounds, which allows you a dedicated five minutes to getting in touch with the sounds of the countryside around you!
Of course, whenever you may next visit this incredible place, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for some of these amazing birds. You’ll see a variety of nest boxes scattered across the grounds which are home to all sorts; be it the common House Sparrow, the quizzical Robin or the stunning Blue Tits and Great Tits. You may also be able to see some of the rarer birds dotted around the hedge lines and amongst the trees, such as Greenfinches, Goldfinches and even Long-tailed Tits.
Seeing these birds is a special treat, but being songbirds of course, the orchestral symphonies that earns them that title is what brings the grounds to life. That is what we are all more likely to experience from these birds.
I know it can feel daunting trying to pick out individual calls from the collection of different calls that can be found out there (I for one am absolutely useless at it!) but you no longer need to be an expert on bird song to be able to do so. There are many helpful books with fantastic descriptions of calls, such as the elastic tic of a Robin or the two note phrases of a Great Tit. But a fantastic tool I have started to use are birdsong ID phone apps. These allow you to record snippets of bird song and based on the location you put in will give you incredibly accurate suggestions for what may be calling!
You’ll see a variety of numbered nest boxes for some of these birds scattered around the Trust grounds, and we are already starting to see and hear young birds getting ready to fledge into the big wide world!
I really hope that next time you visit you may now be able to see, and more importantly hear, the Trust in a totally new light.’