Meet our conservation newbies

Our Conservation and Research team is growing! Say hello to new members of the team – Conservation and Research Coordinator Jamie McKaughan and Research Assistant Stanley Kearney. Stanley and Jamie join us at an exciting time, where our conservation work is needed now more than ever to help preserve some of the worlds most threatened birds of prey. Continue reading to hear from them both.

Meet Jamie

I am really pleased to have joined the Hawk Conservancy Trust. Birds of prey have always fascinated me, with my first animal love being the Peregrine Falcon, serving as my emissary into the wildlife world!

I studied Geography at the University of Liverpool with the intention of working in environmental or wildlife project management. This was not forthcoming when I graduated, and I started working in a financial technology company becoming a project manager, with the idea the skills I learned could be transferred later. This proved to be the case when I moved to South Africa, helping to establish a new wildlife research centre, primarily focused on strategies to mitigate negative human-wildlife interactions between farmers and Chacma Baboons that were foraging in their crops.

The research centre was based near Alldays, right in the north of Limpopo province, and was predominantly a commercial farming area. I spent several years there, working in a variety of roles for both the research centre and the Primate and Predator Project (PPP). I enjoyed leading the environmental education outreach in local schools, while I also setup and coordinated a carnivore research programme in the area too. In keeping with the objectives of the PPP, the carnivore research centred around human-wildlife coexistence and the importance of animal abundance estimates. Towards the end of my time in South Africa I started a Masters project that I later expanded upon to convert into a PhD. This was focused on estimating abundance and understanding space use of mammals, such as leopards, hyaenas and baboons, typically implicated in negative coexistence events.

I see a lot of parallels between hyaena and vultures in terms of their typical standing with humans, and feel they are prime examples of just how important engaging education efforts are in fostering a greater love and understanding of these important animals, and their long-term protection. The conservation work in the field that the Trust does, both in the UK and abroad, is absolutely vital, while the conservation education delivered to our visitors by the wonderful Bird Team members and Education Team is fundamental to long-term conservation success. Being a part of delivering that message is inspiring.

I am a firm believer in evidence-based conservation, and working with integrity and honesty, all three of which I felt the Trust embodied when I applied – and now that I am here, know that they really do! I am excited to help keep pushing our conservation research forwards and raising awareness of all these amazing birds, the struggles they face, and how we can collectively help in conserving them and their habitats.


Meet Stanley

Having graduated from the University of Manchester with a biology degree and a broad view of natural science, I wasn’t quite sure where my career would take me. After a brief stint working in virology to aide the COVID testing effort in 2021, I realised that a career in conservation was my ideal future.

Fortunately, I was afforded an incredible opportunity to work as an intern for a research group studying kestrels in Doñana National Park – an incredible haven for birdlife in Southern Spain and one to tick off for any keen birdwatchers. I was part of a team that monitored nest boxes of Common Kestrels – the same species as our UK residents – and migratory Lesser Kestrels. The project was not dissimilar to the UK Raptor Nest Box Project that is run by the Hawk Conservancy Trust, where we have erected over 1300 boxes inhabited by Little Owls, Barn Owls, Tawny Owls, Kestrels and occasionally… squirrels!

Whilst my affection for birds was instilled in me from childhood visits to the Barnes Wetland Centre with my grandparents, this opportunity drove me to find further work in bird conservation, and I feel lucky to have found a more permanent role here at the Trust.

As a Research Assistant, I work closely with Dr Matt Stevens – our UK Conservation Biologist – helping to collect data and coordinate projects. Most recently I have helped collect data on the abundance of Red Kites and Common Buzzards, walking on transects around South East England and recording my observations. To read more about this project and our UK Raptor Nest Box Project, details can be found on our website here!

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