Bald is beautiful!

Posted on: by

Our birds have strong personalities, choosing who they work with amongst our members of the Bird Team. Our seasonal Bird Team member, Mark Ison, discovered this when he began work alongside our Bald Eagle, Orion! Keep on reading to find out the incredible dedication and care it takes for our Bird Team to earn our birds’ trust, and how truly special these bonds can be.

“Having a lifelong passion for the natural world and in particular, the conservation birds of prey and their habitats, means I have been visiting the Hawk Conservancy Trust for many years. Following a work experience placement as part of my Ecology and Conservation degree course, I was offered a seasonal position with the Bird Team in 2022. Now in my second season here as part of the team, I am pleased to share my experience with working with one of our most powerful birds.

“As my first season was drawing to a close, I had started to make my first steps in forming a working relationship with Orion, one of our Bald Eagles. As anyone who works with birds of prey will tell you, this is much easier said than done.

“Each bird is completely individual, and each have their own distinct personalities. It is the birds themselves who choose who they will allow to work with them, and huge amounts of time and patience is spent creating a bond. In some cases, a particular bird may decide that they just don’t like you from the outset, and this seemed to be Orion’s feeling towards me!

“Initially when I spent time with him,  things seemed to be going well as he flew to my glove. It soon became apparent that this was no match made in heaven, and Orion had decided he wasn’t so sure about me! I decided to give him some space over the winter months with the hopes of spring bringing a change in heart.

“After careful consideration, and support from my colleagues in the Bird Team, we decided in January of this year to give our friendship another go. I worked hard on the basic technical skills that enabled me to work safely and confidently with Orion, with his welfare being my paramount priority.

“We took things at Orion’s pace, and I dedicated time to let him fly to my glove when he wanted to, and spent lots of time together. With his trust earned, he became more relaxed with me. After several weeks, Orion was happy to let me weigh and feed him each day.

“The support and advice offered by my colleagues throughout is a hallmark of the expertise and experience of our team, and mine and Orion’s bond has continued to grow. Orion soon let me work with him in flying sessions, where he would fly between myself and another member of the team in preparation for our busy experience days later in the spring. This really built the foundations of our bond, and I now regularly fly Orion with our guests on our bird of prey experience days.

“We have a great bond now, and I have worked with Orion almost every day since then. Our relationship is going from strength to strength. I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but Orion is definitely a contender – I hope he feels the same about me!”

Meet Becky!

Posted on: by

We’re thrilled to welcome our newest member of staff Becky Ive, who has joined the Conservation and Research Team as the new Conservation Coordinator. Becky joined the Trust on Halloween in 2022, and has been busy networking at conferences on behalf of the Trust focused on Bearded Vultures and BIAZA Conservation Education topics. She has been utilising contacts she made over the summer from voluntary work in Bulgaria monitoring Egyptian Vultures to strengthen partnerships between the Hawk Conservancy Trust and the project in Central Uzbekistan tagging the same species. Carry on reading to hear from Becky all about her work!

“I worked for nearly 5 years as a zookeeper focusing on birds and aquatic species and I always wanted to work in field conservation programs with both native and international species. I took a year out to volunteer on field conservation programs including anti-poaching work in Cyprus and bird ringing in Poland where thousands of birds are ringed during their migration routes across Northern Europe. As soon as I started working with birds, I knew they were the group of animals I wanted to work with for the rest of my career. I saw the advert for this role come up and jumped at the chance to work at an organisation that values conservation and research so highly and has such enthusiastic and dedicated staff.

My job involves lots of different aspects to ensure each of the conservation programs the Trust works on run smoothly. This includes writing grant proposals to secure valuable funding, coordinating partnerships between our partner organisations and helping the other members of the Conservation and Research team in the field when needed.

One aspect of my job I’m most excited to work on is boosting the on-site biodiversity. We have a fantastic group of volunteers that have been surveying the site for native species over many years including Reg’s Wildlflower Meadow. I really want to bring all this data together into a cohesive action plan where we can work on improving the value of the site for native species. I will be updating the website and signage for our native species work and hopefully give visitors lots of ideas about what they can do when they return home for their local wildlife including our many wonderful bird of prey species.”

Tom’s Tawny Owl Tale

Posted on: by

Tom Morath, Bird Team

We often talk about the bond that we build with the birds on the bird team – a working relationship built on confidence and trust from both sides is vital if our birds are to be properly cared for. The strongest of all of these relationships, I think, are the ones built from the very beginning. (more…)

Behind the scenes on a Winter Experience with Ben

Posted on: by

This year I have had the great honour of being involved with the Behind the Scenes Winter Experiences we offer here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust during the closed period in the winter season. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am as much of a people person as an animal person, so I jumped at the opportunity to be able to spend the day showing people some of our lovely birds alongside my colleague, Cedric.. I enjoy the closed period when we work on all the big maintenance jobs, however I do start to miss our visitors so the winter courses are perfect for me.

The general running of the day was very simple, our wonderful guests would arrive for 9:30am and I would meet them for a hot drink and catch up in Feathers Restaurant, then we would head outside to meet the first bird of the day. The most incredible thing about the Winter Experience is that it’s exclusive to two people and with the whole park being closed to general visitors, it gives us the opportunity to have free reign on which birds we could introduce the experience guests to on that day. This meant that we could choose from a team of birds that we were already working with at that time of year, those that maybe prefer a quieter time of the year and birds that we would never normally work with on an experience day. Which meant this really is a VIP Experience.

One of the things I loved most about doing these experiences was the really laid back style of the day. It felt like we had all the time in the world and therefore could spend an endless amount of time with the birds that we were meeting. The whole day would last until 3:30pm and in that time we would have flown and worked with roughly about ten birds and introduced our guests to many more as we would walk around the grounds seeing all the birds in their aviaries.

I love doing experience days here at the Trust because it makes me realise even more how special the majestic birds of prey we have in our care are. When you have a beautiful bird flying to a guest’s fist and the pure joy and elation on their face at that moment for me is just mesmerising. Those are the moments I treasure working at the Trust. I can honestly say that I had those moments everyday doing these Winter Experiences because it was such a unique opportunity to get so close to these magnificent creatures.

These experiences are also an important way for us to communicate and gain support for the vital conservation work that we do all over the world. I had a truly wonderful time with these experiences with beautiful birds and perfect people, a great recipe for a fantastic day at the Hawk Conservancy Trust.


You can book onto one of our VIP Behind the Scenes Winter Experiences with Ben or Cedric this November by clicking here.

New staff member – Meet Lauren

Posted on: by

We’re thrilled to welcome our newest member of staff, Lauren Collins. Lauren joined us as Marketing & Communications Executive at the beginning of February.  A keen environmentalist, Lauren is passionate about protecting and conserving the natural world around us, and is looking forward to inspiring others to do the same in fun, new, creative ways.

“I’m so excited to be joining the fantastic team at the Hawk Conservancy Trust! I’ve always wanted to work in some form of animal conservation, even at one point taking a course in Animal Management with the intention of going into zookeeping. I’ve also always loved creative skills such as writing and photography and found myself working in the field of marketing. So when I saw the job on the Trust’s website, it was an opportunity too good to miss!

This role is a bit of a dream job for me – combining my passion for creativity and communication with animal conservation. The Trust is such a unique place, where it’s intimate setting and friendly staff make visitors feel at home and inspired to support our vital conservation work across the globe, here in Britain, and on-site. I’m looking forward to getting really creative with the teams here to see how we can help spread information and awareness of the work the Trust is involved in in new ways.

My first few weeks have definitely been a bit of a whirlwind, with Storm Eunice disrupting my online work. However whilst offline, I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to spend some valuable time with the Bird Team and around the Trust grounds, getting a better idea of how the different teams work on a day-to-day basis, and watching our incredible birds in action during the displays. I have even been able to take part in a Meet The Burrowers experience, and I’ll never forget the confident little Diamond Back landing in my palm for the first time!

I recently spent a morning shadowing Events Manager and Bird Team member Tom Morath on his daily tasks of feeding and weighing some of the birds in the middle section of the grounds. It was such a good eye-opener into the work that goes into caring for our birds, and thrilling to meet some of our birds up close. I’ll be working with the Bird Team quite closely to bring you all behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and previews across our communication channels, so keep an eye out for exciting things to come!

I’ve already learnt so much and although I still have a long way to go (and a lot of bird names to memorise!) I feel very lucky to be working alongside a bunch of passionate and friendly people, all so dedicated towards the conservation of birds of prey and the natural world around us.”

25 years of Reg’s Wildflower Meadow

Posted on: by

April 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the official opening of Reg’s Wildflower Meadow, a special place of great value and importance to our team, our visitors and also our local environment. We’ve caught up with Trust Founder and Life President, Ashley Smith, to find out more about the history of this special place:


Our 2019 Marion Paviour awardee Diego Mendez shares some initial results!

Posted on: by

Diego Mendez won our Marion Paviour award in 2019 for his fascinating research project with King Vultures! The King Vulture is one of the most understudied raptors in South America; Diego is using the funds from the award to survey roosts, foraging grounds and, potentially, nests of the King Vulture in central Bolivia. (more…)

Watching our birds is beneficial for your health!

Posted on: by

You may remember a recent post from Jess Green, a student studying Environmental Psychology at Surrey University. Jess conducted her BSc Psychology research at the Hawk Conservancy Trust; she investigated the effect of spending time in nature on our well-being with our visitors watching our Woodland Owl display. This is part of an ongoing research project we are conducting in collaboration with Surrey University. Read more about Jess’ research.


©2024 Hawk Conservancy Trust