We’ve recently welcomed two passionate interns onto our Conservation and Research team – meet Melanie Gelderd and Fern Brown! We caught up with Melanie and Fern to find out more about them, and the work they’ve been diving into on their first month at the Hawk Conservancy Trust:
I began my journey at the Hawk Conservancy Trust with two weeks of work experience with the bird team learning about the husbandry and handling of birds of prey. Having loved my time here, I continued to volunteer until I was lucky enough to start this internship with the Conservation and Research department!
Involvement in ongoing projects has enabled me to put skills learnt in my BSc Zoology degree to good use from butterfly counts and camera trapping wild nightlife, to analysing data from our National Bird of Prey Hospital and creating literature databases. One of the main ongoing projects I have been working on has been small mammal trapping which is essential for monitoring the prey availability for our native birds of prey. Another way the trust helps and monitors the native bird of prey population is through the Raptor Nest Box Project. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of these nest boxes with Conservation Biologist Dr Matt Stevens and learn more about the work being done to ensure the future of our target species – Barn Owl, Kestrel, Little Owl and Tawny Owl. My favourite experience so far has been releasing a rehabilitated Red Kite from our National Bird of Prey Hospital back into the wild!
The experiences and skills I have gained at the trust so far have been invaluable and are setting me up perfectly for my next step – studying a Master’s degree in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation.
I am thrilled to be joining the Hawk Conservancy Trust as a Conservation and Research Intern for ten months. So far, I have been focusing on developing our on-site biodiversity monitoring, including surveying invertebrates, vegetation, birds and small mammals. One highlight included finding a vole chilling in a small mammal trap-this usually wouldn’t be surprising, but on this occasion, the trap wasn’t active! I am looking forward to expanding our monitoring to include other taxonomic groups, and to comparing our results to those in previous years to gain a picture of any trends in population sizes over time.
I have an MSc in Wildlife Conservation; however, pretty much all of my previous experience has been with mammals. In fact, while I was aware of the work the Trust does, I hadn’t actually visited the site until after I had accepted this internship. Working on-site has given me a much a greater appreciation of the beauty of birds of prey, and the passion from the rest of the staff has been infectious.
In the future, I hope to go into a career within research. In particular, I find the interaction between species within an ecosystem fascinating. This internship has been great in developing many of the skills I would need for this career, whilst allowing me to contribute to the real-world conservation of birds of prey. I have already learnt so much in my time here, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!