X

Meet our Artist in Residence!

Posted on: by

We’re delighted to welcome professional artist Alex McGarry as the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s official Artist in Residence!

Alex McGarry is a professional artist specialising in oil paintings of British Wildlife and birds. she is the winner of the prestigious title ‘Up & Coming Artist of the Year’ awarded by the Fine Art Trade Guild. She is represented by the UKs largest distributor of original paintings and limited edition prints – De Montfort Fine Art. And as such her paintings can be found in galleries across the UK and on board luxury cruise ships such as the Queen Mary II.

 

Alex has a huge passion for wildlife, as she explains:

“Painting wildlife and birds as a full time profession for the last ten years, is something I never tire of – I love wildlife and I love to paint! So it feels natural to me to want to give something back to some of the wildlife that I depict in oils. Having been a member at the Hawk Conservancy Trust for a while, I was inspired by their passion for birds of prey to approach them. Their passion for their birds is infectious and their conservation efforts are just incredible! The work that the Trust does is vital for birds of prey both here and across the globe, and I hope to contribute to those efforts, however big or small, through the sales of my paintings and drawings.”

As part of the new partnership, an exclusive collection of Alex’s paintings will be on permanent display in the Trust shop. Fifty percent of all painting sales and one hundred percent of profits from print sales will go directly towards supporting the Trust’s continued conservation, research and education of birds of prey and their habitats.

Trust CEO Penny Smout says:

“We are delighted that Alex has agreed to be our artist in residence. It is wonderful to join forces with such a talented artist whose love for the wonders of nature complement our passions for wildlife so beautifully. Our aim is to inspire people to care about birds of prey and it is a joy to work with Alex to help us do this creatively.”

Join us for an evening of drinks and canapes to celebrate the official launch on Thursday 30 November! Come along and meet Alex for yourself on this free to attend evening. You’ll be able to see our beautiful birds captured by Alex in her art, including the new display of paintings that will be on permanent display in the Trust shop. Plus, enter the raffle on the evening and be in with a chance to win an exclusive, limited edition print!

The preview evening is free to attend and we would love for you to come along. Numbers are limited – please RSVP by Friday 24th November to Jemma Benton on jemma@hawkconservancy.org or 01264 773850.

 

 

Meet our vulture chicks!

Posted on: by

The hatching of three vulture chicks at the the Hawk Conservancy Trust is a hard-fought win for two of the world’s most threatened species of bird.

The two African White-backed Vulture chicks and one Hooded Vulture chick are among the most threatened species of birds globally.  Some 70% of vulture species have an unfavourable conservation status meaning they are at risk of extinction.

The recently hatched chicks are particularly important because they represent vital and substantial progress towards creating a sustainable safety-net population. African White-backed and Hooded Vultures are Critically Endangered with rapidly decreasing populations across their African range. Over the last 30 years Hooded Vulture numbers have declined by around 83% and White-backed Vultures by 90%.

All three chicks are thriving after a complex and labour-intensive effort by our Bird Team who are dedicated to international breeding programmes that work to create sustainable and healthy populations of birds in zoological institutions.

Coordination of such populations is important because they can represent the survival of a species if it becomes extinct in the wild. Should the unthinkable happen, chicks like these three will be vital for future conservation efforts and reintroduction to the wild, once the threats have been minimised.

In the wild, the reasons for dwindling populations of vultures are complex. Aside from the threats to life such as poisoning by poachers, vulture breeding takes a long time in terms of success–some species only breed once a year and produce just one egg.  If parent skills, including their own survival, climatic and environmental factors all align, and the chick hatches successfully, the young vulture will face a host of challenges before it can reach adulthood.

The workings of international breeding programmes are also complex and fraught with challenges. The following individual tales of the three new chicks illustrate just how delicate the journey can be from nesting to fledging.

 

From risky beginnings to foster family success

In the case of the first White-backed Vulture, the egg was spotted by the Bird Team being sat on by parents Etosha and Talavera.  The team was cautious because the pair did not have an established record of successful hatching. So, after careful consideration the egg was taken into our National Bird of Prey Hospital TM to be incubated. This is an established and proven method to maximise incubation success while a dummy egg is given to the nesting pair to maintain parental instincts ready for the eventual return of the chick. Thank you to Investec for funding our new incubator.

In the hospital, the egg was kept in the incubator with temperature and humidity control and the chick’s development was closely monitored for signs of growth, until the first signs of hatching were spotted.  At this stage, our incubation specialist Mike Riley took on the role of the parents by carefully helping with removal of the shell.  This is a delicate technical procedure as the inside membrane of the egg is full of small blood vessels that, if damaged, could cause difficulties for the chick before complete hatching.

Once hatched the chick spent 11 days staying warm in the incubator and being fed four times a day, and being checked and weighed for progress.  Throughout, any Bird Team member in contact with the chick had to cover their face and head to avoid the risk of imprinting, which is when a newborn animal can see a human or other animal is its parent as a result of regular exposure to them.

Sadly, while the new hatchling was developing, Etosha and Talavera abandoned the idea of being parents and stopped sitting on their dummy egg, meaning the chick could not be returned to them as planned.  This called for foster parents, and the perfect pair was found in another pair of African White-backed Vultures living at the Trust, Heshima and Ruaha, who have bred successfully before but this year were unlucky in their attempts to produce a viable egg but remained looking after a dummy egg.

The chick was introduced to the expectant pair by being gently placed in an open ‘reveal’ egg which was then swapped with the dummy egg in the nest. Heshima and Ruaha instantly took to the chick and began feeding and incubating it with all the skills and care they’d developed with previous offspring.

The chick will soon be ready to fledge the nest – an event that will be captured on CCTV and possibly by any visitors lucky enough to be at the Trust at the right time.

 A tale of inter-specific adoption

The second African White-backed Vulture egg to be hatched this year at the Trust comes with a heart-warming tale of inter-specific adoption which sees our pair of disappointed Cinereous Vultures stepping up to parent the young chick.

Although a well-bonded pair, Cinereous Vultures Thor and Aldara have sadly had a few failed breeding attempts due to their dangerous habit of creating two nests then attempting to move their egg between them.  Obviously, this makes the risk of damaging the precious egg very high so, when they laid their own egg this year, the Bird Team needed to lend a hand – placing the egg in a safe incubator and giving Dad Thor and Mum Aldara a dummy egg to look after and maintain the parenting instinct until, after successful hatching, the chick could be returned to them.

Sadly, the egg was not fertile, so Thor and Aldara were left without a chick to rear.  At the same time the Bird Team was looking after a second African White-backed Vulture chick which could not be returned to its biological parents, and this gave rise to an idea which is rare in breeding programmes for birds of prey – to place the egg from one species with parents of another.

Having been safely incubated and hatched with gentle assistance in the Trust’s National Bird of Prey HospitalTM, the African White-backed Vulture was placed with Thor and Aldara because being reared by birds rather than humans is the ideal start in life for any chick.

After close monitoring, with the team ready to step in at any moment, Thor and Aldara proved to be excellent parents and continued to rear the chick perfectly and prepare it for its future fledging.

The Hooded Vulture – from slow-burn relationship to the strongest of family bonds

Vultures are typically monogamous, which is uncommon in the animal kingdom. Rather than reproducing with any number of mates during their lifespan, many species of vulture pair for life and this means finding the perfect significant other and deciding to have offspring can be a long-winded affair!

Since moving in together at the Trust in 2018, Hooded Vultures Vinnie and Nougat have taken their sweet time developing their relationship until this year when they finally felt close enough to produce an egg.

The pair’s bonding was so strong and their parenting so diligent that the Bird Team needed to do very little but watch in wonder on CCTV as their new chick was hatched in the family nest, high up in their outdoor space.

While we are obviously delighted with this year’s successes, there will be no resting on laurels. As the breeding pairs experience and succeed with parenting, it adds fresh hope they these pairs can be expected to contribute future chicks to the breeding programme that could then add to the breeding stock internationally and move closer towards the potential for release back into the wild when conditions are improved.

 

Thank you to Investec for funding our new incubator!

 

 

 

 

Owen climbs for conservation!

Posted on: by

This summer, Bird Team member Owen Lincoln is celebrating his birthday in style – by lacing up his hiking boots and taking on the Three Peaks challenge to raise funds for vulture conservation! With the tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales to conquer in just 24 hours, this is no mean feat. Owen is hoping to raise £8000 for our Pakistan Vulture Restoration Project (PVRP) – an important part of our work conserving Asian vultures.

Find out more about why Owen is so passionate about our work in Pakistan:

“Why am I taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge?

For me it’s a bit of a no-brainier! I have two passions in life, one is long treks and walking in the great outdoors, the other is (of course) birds – but more specifically vultures. So, what better way to combine the two than pushing myself to the absolute limit and testing my abilities whilse raising money for one of our conservation and research projects that I hold very dear to my heart?

If you have been to the Trust before I’m sure you have heard us speak passionately about the issues vultures face in Africa, but we also work intensively in Asia too. I am raising funds for our Pakistan Vulture Restoration Project to help with the ground-breaking work taking place to prevent the extinction of Asia’s threatened vulture species.

I am confident in my ability to complete the three highest peaks of England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours. That’s three countries and three mountains all in one day. Over the 24 hour time period, I’ll be hiking 44km and climbing over 3000 meters!

I can’t ask for help with my hike, but I am asking for your help to raise money for these beautiful and crucial birds before it is too late. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and together I know we can make a big difference.

Thank you all for your continued support and I’ll see you at the finish line!”

Owen is hoping to raise £8000 for our Pakistan Vulture Restoration Project (PVRP) – an important part of our work conserving Asian vultures. Since the mid-1990s, tens of millions of vultures in south Asia have died from ingesting a veterinary drug called diclofenac – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is highly toxic to vultures if they feed on the carcass of an animal that has been treated with it shortly before death.

This important project aims to create Vulture Safe Zones free of this and other dangerous drugs for wild vulture populations to thrive. The Trust also funds a breeding centre in Changa Manga, run by our partners WWF-Pakistan, for Asian White-backed Vultures to one day be released into these safe zones, helping to boost numbers of these birds in the wild.

Although Owen has previously completed each peak separately, the challenge of completing them all within 24 hours is a daunting task – and on his birthday no less! He will need your help and support to get him to the top of all three mountains, as well as helping him hit his goal to raise £8000 for this incredible project.

You can make a donation to Owen’s fundraising challenge here.

WIN a day with the Bird Team!

Posted on: by

This raffle has now closed. 

You and a friend will join us for a full day when we will invite you behind-the-scenes to areas not normally open to the public. You will have an opportunity to help with the day-to-day care of our birds, including handling, flying and enrichment sessions. Plus there’ll be a chance to work with a variety of species that call the Hawk Conservancy Trust home, whilst learning more about the techniques we use to train our birds.

On this special day, there will also be an opportunity for you to be involved in one of our three world-class flying displays!

During the day, we’ll also give you an insight into some of the techniques we use to create the flying displays that we are best-known for. With an expert at your fingertips, this will be the perfect time for you to ask everything you wish to know about working with our impressive birds and the Trust.

Please note that the exact activities included in this special experience may vary from those advertised and will be dependent on the time of year booked.

Raffle will close at midnight on 31 December 2023, and be drawn on Monday 1 January 2024 and notified within the week.

Terms and Conditions apply

Be inspired on our brand new Tree Trail!

Posted on: by

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.

 

 

 

Masters of the Sky: A brand new flying display

Posted on: by

From this April, join us at 2pm every day to witness our brand new flying display for our summer timetable: Masters of the Sky!

In the majesty of Reg’s Wildflower Meadow, watch in wonder and awe as we showcase the most amazing birds of prey from around the world, all together in one incredible new display. These species will highlight birds of prey and their exceptional adaptations – from some of the biggest birds of prey to the fastest, the most intelligent birds and the most vulnerable.

Masters of the Sky will feature the most birds we’ve ever flown in one of our daily flying displays, as well as the widest range of species too. You’ll see some of our biggest birds take to the skies in ways you’ve never seen before – taking off from our brand new 8m tall towers and soaring overhead in breath-taking flights.

There will be birds with starring roles that we’ve never flown in our daily timetabled displays before, including Azura the Black-chested Buzzard Eagle wowing us with her impressive wingspan, Miti the Bateleur Eagle displaying his unique flying style, and Warrior the African Hawk-Eagle soaring across the open sky. Flo the Crested Caracara will also be returning to displays, showing off her nest building skills for the very first time in an exciting segment.

Of course, there’ll be returning favourites making special appearances in the display, but perhaps differently to how you’ve seen them before. Our cheeky team of Hooded Vultures will still be getting close to you in the audience, our Bald Eagles will still demonstrate their powerful flights across Reg’s Wildflower Meadow, and fan-favourite Egyptian Vulture Boe will still stoop in from hundreds of feet up high.

Accompanying our birds will be beautiful soundtracks, carefully curated to fit the magnitude of these amazing birds, and our signature commentary from our passionate Bird Team. To top off this spectacular display, we’ll bring you a truly unique and jaw-dropping finale – without giving anything away we can tell you it will be a finale that we’re sure you’ll never forget.

Be sure to visit us this summer from Saturday April 1 to catch Masters of the Sky in action everyday at Reg’s Wildflower Meadow from 2pm!

 

Towers built with funding from the Loddon and Test LEADER Programme and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Allez Cedric!

Posted on: by

National Bird of Prey HospitalTM Manager Cedric Robert is once again lacing up his running shoes and hitting the road in his first attempt at the London Marathon to raise money for the Hawk Conservancy Trust!

Inspired by the incredible effort and support of Bird Team member and Registrar Ryan Stephens, who ran the London Marathon last year and raised nearly £12,000 for the National Bird of Prey HospitalTM, Cedric wanted to do his part to support the Trust.

This time around, Cedric has chosen to raise funds to support the work of our UK Conservation Biologist Matt Stephens, and his hard work on our Raptor Nest Box Project!

Bird of prey and owl Christmas gifts - Amazon Wishlist

Speaking on his marathon bid, Cedric said:

“Ryan did such an amazing job of running his first ever marathon last year, and raising so much money for the National Bird of Prey HospitalTM at the same time, the area of the Hawk Conservancy Trust that I manage! It’s now only fair I put my running shoes back on and do my part to help another team member at the Trust with the area they look after.  A bit like the relay baton, I suppose!

I am so excited to be taking part in the 2023 London Marathon in April, raising funds for our incredible Raptor Nest Box Project. This project is very close to my heart. Matt (Dr Matt Stevens, UK Conservation Biologist) and I work closely together when wild birds of prey come into our National Bird of Prey HospitalTM. The condition of these sick, orphaned or injured birds can give us an indication of what life is like for wild birds around the country. By understanding how these birds end up coming into our care, we can find out how we can help to conserve them.

I want to run this marathon to help Matt to continue the conservation work of UK species of birds of prey such as Barn Owls, Tawny Owls, Little Owls and Kestrels. This is a project that is really special to me because I treat and work with many of these wild species when they are brought to the hospital. It is especially important for Kestrels and Tawny Owls, who’s UK Conservation status’ are both Amber. I am hoping to raise enough money to fund new equipment for Matt, who spends most of his time out in the field installing, repairing and monitoring over 1000 nest boxes – his dedication is truly inspiring. This equipment will help us learn more about the lives of these birds in the wild, and what we can do to help them.

Each time we successfully rehabilitate and release a bird back into the wild after treatment in our Hospital, I wonder whether they’ll end up using one of our nest boxes to build a family. Wouldn’t that just be incredible?”

Cedric is a seasoned marathon runner, with multiple marathons under his belt. He actually prefers off-road marathons running through the countryside, and has only ever taken part in one road marathon in the past. His fastest time ever for a marathon in the countryside was an outstanding 3 hours and 52 minutes – imagine how fast he might be on London’s tarmacked streets!

If you’d like to support Cedric’s efforts in raising enough money to fund new equipment for our Raptor Nest Box Project, you can make a donation on Cedric’s fundraising page here.

 

Enter our Winter Woodland Lights Facebook competition!

Posted on: by

Competition now closed.

Enter our Winter Woodland Lights Facebook competition to win two tickets to our sparkling Winter Woodland Lights event!

Bird of prey and owl Christmas gifts - Event Tickets

Join our Facebook competition and be in with a chance to win tickets for you and one other person to come along to an evening out like no other. Discover a new illuminated trail, delicious food in Feathers Restaurant, dazzling lights bringing the Trust grounds to life, and spectacular owl flight in an unforgettable finale.
 
The competition ends at 10am January 6 2023. One winner will be drawn at random from the comments below. The dates chosen and tickets allocated (either adult or child tickets) will be allocated when the competition closes.

(more…)

National Bird of Prey Hospital™ Annexe opened by wildlife presenter Megan McCubbin

Posted on: by

TV wildlife presenter, zoologist and conservationist Megan McCubbin has officially opened a new annexe at the National Bird of Prey HospitalTM near Andover, Hampshire – increasing the facility’s capacity to care for injured and sick birds of prey.

The new annexe has been built to expand capacity, so there is potential to treat and rehabilitate more than 200 orphaned, injured and sick birds of prey each year.  Birds are often brought to the facility by members of the public or transferred from other wildlife centres and the patients are predominantly victims of road traffic accidents; youngsters that have fallen from nests; and sometimes birds that have been targeted by persecution activities.

Operated by the Hawk Conservancy Trust, a specialist bird of prey conservation charity, the hospital is also involved in breeding programmes and research for the conservation of species both in the UK and overseas.

Funded from donations from Animal Friends and public donations from Graham & Rita Morgan, Carline Stelling in memory of David Stelling, and Maureen Dixon in memory of Valerie Roberts, the new annexe features not only additional space, but also improved access for anyone bringing a bird for assessment and treatment and its modern construction further improves biosecurity.

The hospital is located at the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s visitor centre and the design of the new annexe makes it possible for educational visits to learn more about the hospital’s vital work.

To give you an insight into the fascinating work at the Hospital, we’ve gone behind the scenes with Hospital Manager Cedric Robert in our latest documentary – Stories from the Hospital. We hope that you enjoy it and continue to support the important work that the National Bird of Prey Hospital™ does daily.

WIN a day with the Bird Team at the Hawk Conservancy Trust!

Posted on: by

This raffle has now closed.

Enter our fundraising raffle to win this money-can’t-buy experience to be an extra member of our Bird Team for the day!

You and a friend will join us for a full day when we will invite you behind-the-scenes to areas not normally open to the public. You will have an opportunity to help with the day-to-day care of our birds, including handling, flying and enrichment sessions. Plus there’ll be a chance to work with a variety of species that call the Trust home, whilst learning more about the techniques we use to train our birds.

On this special day, there will also be an opportunity for you to be involved in one of our three world-class flying displays!

During the day, we’ll also give you an insight into some of the techniques we use to create the flying displays that we are best-known for. With an expert at your fingertips, this will be the perfect time for you to ask everything you wish to know about working with our impressive birds and the Trust.

Please note that the exact activities included in this special experience may vary from those advertised and will be dependent on the time of year booked.

Raffle will close at midnight on 31 December 2022, and be drawn on Monday 2 January 2023 and notified on the same day.

Terms and Conditions apply

 

 

©2024 Hawk Conservancy Trust