Be inspired on our brand new Tree Trail!

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From this May half term, discover the fascinating world of some of the trees we have here at the Trust on our brand new Tree Trail!

At the Hawk Conservancy Trust, we are all about conserving birds of prey and their habitats: trees are vital habitats to many birds of prey and the food they eat. Our 22 acre grounds are home to over 80 different species of tree, the most common including Elder, Silver Birch, Hornbeam, Hazel, Beech, Ash and Hawthorn.

As well as native species, we also have 45 non-native tree species which create a home for many different species, increasing habitats for our beautiful British wildlife. Most of the trees on site were planted by the founders of the Hawk Conservancy Trust, and we are planning on planting more native species in the coming years!

This May half term, be sure to collect your handout and join us on this inspiring new addition to our timetable to find out why trees are so vital and what we can do to help conserve our beautiful British wildlife. Fun for the whole family, follow the trail around our grounds to see and learn about these 11 different tree species, as well as the conservation and research we are undertaking at the Trust to continue conserving birds of prey and their habitats.

Bringing children along? Get the kids involved with deciphering the secret message we’ve hidden along the way!

Join us on this fascinating Tree Trail to discover all about trees, which species call them home, and how we can help trees that benefit our beautiful native wildlife.




A tribute to Marion

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It is with great sadness that we share the news that our former Chairman, Marion Paviour has died.

Marion was Chairman of the Board of Directors since the inception of the Trust in 2002, until she stepped down from this position in 2017. Marion’s vision for the Trust from its outset was to create a world leader in bird of prey conservation, and she worked tirelessly to achieve that. Under her guidance the Trust transformed into a highly-regarded conservation charity with international impact, and a visitor attraction that has gone from strength to strength.

Ashley Smith, Life President and Founder of the Hawk Conservancy Trust, reflected back on Marion’s life, and her dedication towards the success of the Trust:

‘Born in the 1930’s, Marion was the youngest of 3 sisters by 16 years. As a child, she lived through the war years which helped shape her determined spirit and a will to live life to the full.

When she was twenty-five, she met Andrew, her husband. Marion became an officer’s wife and threw herself into all that this entailed, and Andrew for his part encouraged her lifelong interest and involvement in the law. In 1976, they settled in Hampshire. This was when I first met Marion, when she became a friend of my family and helped us with the work of the Hawk Conservancy.

My father’s last request to Marion was to keep an eye on his family, and she stayed true to that promise and was by my side as a wise counsel for many years. She always thought big, and wanted the Conservancy to grow into an international conservation organisation and was the driving force in helping us achieve my father’s ambition for ‘The Hawks’, as she affectionately called us, establishing it as a charitable Trust and becoming its first Chairman. As with all her passions Marion was determined and would fiercely fight for what she thought was right.

She was never shy to express her views but would always listen to others even if she did not agree. I know from speaking with her if she said, “My Dear Boy,” we were going to have a battle and if she followed it by saying “With the greatest of respect” I knew I had lost.

She could also be very fiery and was not afraid to deploy it for effect, for which she had a reputation. On one occasion, after I had been in discussion with the County Council for nearly two years about having new tourist board signs erected, eventually I said if things didn’t progress, I would have to pass it onto our Chairman. When he asked who that was, I informed him it was Mrs Marion Paviour. His reply was “Thursday, I will have the signs up by Thursday “.

Marion was one of a kind; an independent lady who was so proud of her family and all they achieved, and fiercely protective of those she cared for.’

Marion was a champion of young people, rooting for them, offering support and providing opportunities. It is from this legacy that the Marion Paviour Award was created in 2018. This conservation and research award aims to further the conservation of birds of prey and it is intended to support early-career researchers working towards this goal – something that was always been very important to Marion. Previously this fund has been awarded for research of energy use by Striated Caracaras, to study King Vulture populations, research Kestrel diets in the UK, Barn Owl benefits to viticulture in Napa Valley, and most recently the study of Martial Eagles in Malawi.

Marion touched so many people’s lives, making lasting impressions, and inspiring so many. We will miss her.

Catching up with Caracaras

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After joining the Bird Team last summer, Ronnie Hunter has been getting to know the amazing birds of prey that live here at the Trust. During her time so far, Ronnie has grown very fond of our older pair of Striated Caracaras, Darwin and Lafonia, and their adorable antics. We caught up with Ronnie to hear all about this pair of intelligent birds.

“For the past few months I have spent a lot of time working on the Hospital section of the grounds. As part of working on this section, one of our duties includes taking care of our elderly pair of Striated Caracaras: Darwin and Lafonia. Visiting this pair of birds very has quickly become one of my favourite parts of my day here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust – they have the most wonderful personalities and take such care looking after each other.

“Darwin and Lafonia are recorded as being 42 years old, and have been together their whole lives. This species is known to have a long life expectancy in collections – most records suggesting over 30 years, which our pair have far surpassed. The expected lifespan in the wild isn’t known, but is usually around half that of those living in collections. When they arrived here in 1981, the site where the Trust stands today was still known as Weyhill Zoo; it’s amazing to think of the variety of animals that they once shared the site with. If you look around their current aviary today, you can still see a sliding door which is the remnant of a previous carnivore enclosure!

“Parents’ to 16 chicks, the first hatching in 1990, they are the parents to our very own Sirius! Sirius hatched out in 2003, and takes part in our flying demonstrations and experience days. He’s an extremely cheeky character and loves nothing more than causing chaos, all while still remaining his incredibly charming self. His charming side definitely comes from his dad, Darwin. As the years have passed Darwin has perfected the art of looking after Lafonia, and it is one of the many reasons I enjoy spending time in their company.

“These days, Darwin and Lafonia occasionally take time off from their retirement and take part in Brilliant Bird Brains within their aviary. It’s a chance for our visitors to see just how intelligent this species is, whilst also keeping them on their toes with new activities.

“They are both very gentle birds, and will take food from the hands of people they trust, with Darwin being the more confident of the two. I’ve noticed recently that Darwin will always approach first to take a piece of food. If Lafonia is feeling a little more reserved, Darwin will take his piece of food straight over to her to make sure that she doesn’t miss out. He’ll then run back over to get another piece for himself – a small act that I find incredibly sweet. This is usually followed by elaborate vocalisations involving loud caws and throwing their heads back to add a physical element to their communication.

“Another behaviour I love to watch is when they ‘stash’ food around the aviary for later. They are not always the most graceful when doing this, and it’s not uncommon to see them run headfirst into a tuft of long grass to hide the food inside in a hurry.

“Whether they’re taking part in an activity on our daily timetable or just relaxing in their aviary, this incredible pair are definitely worth a visit during your next stop at the Trust!

©2024 Hawk Conservancy Trust