Meet Jenny!

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Jenny Abery has joined the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s Education team as our brand new Principal Educator! We are delighted to have Jenny on board. She joined us at the beginning of May and has already been getting busy working with our Bird Team on our educational visits! Read more from Jenny:

‘Thank you for the warm welcome to the Hawk Conservancy Trust, I am thrilled to be a part of the team and am very excited to get stuck into the new role.

Since graduating from the University of Southampton in 2016, I have had many different roles, including working in other collections, outdoor education in the New Forest National Park, Ecology, and managing nature reserves. My passion has always been in conservation education, reconnecting people with the natural world and raising awareness of the threats which many species face.

I have been coming to the Trust since I was a child and have long admired the conservation work and mission. A group of birds which really drew me here is our amazing vultures, and the vital conservation and education work the Trust undertakes to preserve these important species. Changing people’s perceptions of these beautiful birds which have often been villainised in the past and raising awareness of their plight is a challenge I have always enjoyed. It is a prime example of just how important conservation education is in the long-term protection of species and their habitats.

I first became passionate about the natural world through sharks, another misunderstood and often feared species. I clearly have an affinity for the misunderstood and underappreciated of the natural world, but those that clearly need all the attention and protection we can give. The work the Trust already does to promote these wonderful animals is inspiring, and certainly piqued my excitement to come and work somewhere which embodies my values and passion for wildlife.

My role will encompass everything involving education delivery. Conservation education is embedded in everything we deliver here at the Trust and is vital to our national and international conservation efforts. In my first month, my focus has mainly been on the school visits, upcoming events and compiling new Super Top Trump cards for our Top Trumps Trail, but my long-term aim will also be to develop a long-term education strategy for the Trust. Through my role I hope to continue the fantastic work of the Trust to raise the profile and awareness of the amazing birds we work with.’

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.

Masters of the Sky: A brand new flying display

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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.

Tree-mendous Planting Achievement For New Outdoor Classroom

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We are delighted to have partnered with the Hampshire Forest Partnership to help it reach its goal of planting 1 million trees before 2050.

A step towards that goal came when 75 trees donated by the Partnership were planted at the Trust.  The trees, in their infant stage, were planted by some young nature enthusiasts visiting us on the day, who joined our team to carefully position them in the ground.

Elliot, Lewis, Harry and Emily each planted a tree which will grow to form a hedgerow along the new John Ellicock Outdoor Classroom.  The hedgerow is made of a mixture of Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Elder, Dogwood, Crab Apple and Field Maple.

Our CEO, Penny Smout, said: “It was really important that young people were invited to plant these trees in a space which will hopefully inspire and be used by thousands of pupils and students to learn about the importance of birds of prey and their habitats.  Trees and hedgerows are key to some species as a foraging habitat and for roosting.  We were so delighted that Elliot, Lewis, Harry and Emily each planted a tree and wrote their name on the tree guard.  We hope each of them visit the Trust many times in the future to watch them grow.”

The tree planting is the start of an ongoing partnership between the Hawk Conservancy Trust and the Hampshire Forest Partnership, working together to educate about the important relationship between trees, birds of prey and the wider ecosystem; providing learning resources to educate both in the classroom and around the site at the Trust.

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, the County Council’s Executive Member for Countryside and Regulatory Services said “the Hampshire Forest Partnership is all about bringing people, organisations and communities together to learn about and enjoy their environment and help us to deliver our target of planting one million trees across the county by 2050. We are delighted to be working with the Hawk Conservancy Trust to help in their efforts to conserve our beautiful birds of prey and plant more trees to support this excellent endeavour”.

The John Ellicock Outdoor Classroom, named in memory of our former Director and long-standing, close supporter of the Trust who sadly passed away in 2022, was also part-funded by the Loddon and Test LEADER Programme and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The outdoor classroom will provide a dedicated venue for schools that come to the Trust for educational visits and workshops. It offers a sheltered hub for students to use as a base for their visit. The engaging space can be used for presentations, workshops, talks, activities and storage. Facilities include AV equipment for presentations, sinks for hand washing, and there is also include a garden area where students can engage with wildlife and interpretation to highlight what can be seen. Equipment such as microscopes will really bring students close to nature.

We are so thrilled to be working with the Hampshire Forest Partnership to plant more trees over the coming decades and help conserve birds of prey. The Hampshire Forest Partnership – coordinated by Hampshire County Council – aims to support residents and organisations to plant more trees to ensure a legacy for future generations to enjoy in line with the County Council’s Tree Strategy which was published in 2020. Find out more about the initiative here.



A sad goodbye to Delores

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We are so sad to have to inform you that Delores, our beautiful Cinereous Vulture, passed away 29 December 2022.  She was so close to the hearts of many of the team here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, and to many of you as well.  After a period of illness, with heart disease and arthritis, with no signs of recovery, we took the kind, yet difficult decision to put her to a peaceful sleep.  At the grand age of 32 years old, just 3 days off her 33rd birthday, we are devastated to have lost her, although blessed that she lived such a long life with us at the Trust.

To honour Delores’ legacy, we have set up a memorial fund. Donations will go towards the care of our birds, helping them to live a long and healthy life, alongside our work towards conserving their wild counterparts. Click here to donate.

Delores was a special bird at the Trust; a real character that brightened the day of many passing her aviary, giving a quirky head tilt and keeping an eye on the goings on.  She had her firm favourites among the Bird Team and volunteers and would happily bring twigs to her favourites when they came to feed her and say hello.  Many will hold fond memories of her cheeky, playful antics too; stealing their brushes when they came in to clean her aviary and pecking at their boot laces.  She would delight in emptying buckets of collected loose twigs, leaves and weeds and you may have noticed some patches of un-mown grass in her aviary – this was usually where we’ve worked around her when she didn’t want to budge.  If a lawn mower was unmanned, Delores would demolish the wheel trims too.  All of this was part of her endearing charm, and easily forgiven with a raise of the shoulder feathers and a signature head tilt.

With the beautiful plumage around her neck, likened to a feather boa, her beautiful big eyes, gorgeous coloured feathers, she’s been known as quite the glamour puss at the Trust, and we love that she has been a champion in our plight to show how beautiful vultures are.  She single-handedly converted many of our visitors to being vulture fans.

It will feel very strange to walk past her aviary and not be welcomed by Delores with a turn of her head or raising of her chest feathers as her greeting.  We’ll miss her collecting sticks and placing them in a pile at the front of the aviary, proudly standing over her nest attempt each year. She touched the hearts of everyone at the Trust, all of whom would stop and chat as they walked by, from the Trust’s cleaner walking to work at 6am, to Feathers Restaurant staff on their way to corporate events at the Griffon Rooms. She won the hearts of so many and will be so sorely missed by staff, volunteers and visitors.

Ashley Smith (Life President and Founder) and John Chitty (The Trust’s Vet) look back on how Delores came into their lives.

 “A pair of Cinereous Vultures had recently been imported to the UK from a zoological collection in Russia. I had never seen a Cinereous Vulture before and so I asked the chap who imported them if I could visit and see them. When I got there I discovered that one of them (Delores) had recently become very sick. I said to the owner that I thought she needed immediate specialist veterinary care and he agreed. I said that I knew just the vet who could help and that if he were to let me take her home I would go straight to the vet for treatment and that I would care for her, also pay for all her vet bills and that if she survived, she would then have a permanent home with us.  He readily agreed.

 I drove straight to our vet John Chitty’s house with Delores sat on the back seat of the car. It was late evening by the time that I arrived and when John opened the door I was stood there with Delores in my arms. I explained the situation and asked if he could take a look her as she was very sick. He agreed immediately though he was in the middle of hosting a dinner party. This did not deter John and between us all (including the dinner party guests) we cleared the dining room table to examine Delores on. One of the dinner party guests was so excited she said this was the best dinner party she had ever been too. John and his wife Kate carefully examined her, giving her a cocktail of drugs and then suggesting I take her home and keep her warm and hydrated. Slowly, but surely and with further care from John and Kate she improved and made a full recovery.  I named her Delores after the character played by Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act” Ashley Smith Life President and Founder.

“It was a sad day saying goodbye to Delores. I first met her in my living room in 1993 when Ashley crashed an evening dinner bearing a Cinereous vulture he’d just picked up after import from a zoological collection in Russia. Delores was clearly disabled and had leg and foot changes due to bumblefoot infections. The key question was ‘could we do anything to help her?’  Well, we could – and she lived well at the Trust for nearly 30 years! It always seems particularly sad to lose a bird after such a long time but we do have to remember just how old she was (she was an adult when she arrived) and it isn’t surprising that, in the end, her arthritis and heart disease caught up with her. Delores had a long and good life and gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of visitors- she was a spectacular bird, but to me will always be the ‘vulture who came to tea’” John Chitty (Vet)

As Delores meant so much to so many, we will have an area at the Trust where visitors, volunteers and staff can go to pay their respects.  Please bear with us for the next few weeks or so while we arrange this.

A huge thank you to everyone who has loved and cared for Delores over the years, supporting the Hawk Conservancy Trust with visits, donations and memberships, so that we could care for her and her roommates.


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

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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.

Flight at the Movies: The highlight reels!

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On Saturday June 25, we held our biggest fundraising event of the year. More than 500 guests enjoyed a spectacular evening of birds flying to iconic movie soundtracks, performed live by the English Wild Orchestra and singer Ayesha Pike.

Guided by the evening’s commentators, Bird Team members Tom Morath and Ben Cox, our guests were transported into scenes from iconic movies. The evening kicked off on a high, with our Barn Owls quartering Reg’s Wildflower Meadow to the magical Harry Potter theme tune. Enthusiastic as ever, Ben may have gotten a little bit too into character here!

The audience were then pulled right into the centre of the action, as our Lanner Falcon –  Chaucer sped through the crowd at speeds of up to 60MPH to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, and a few lucky guests were selected at random to fly Fagan the Hooded Vulture to ‘You’ve got a friend in me’

The sound of fearsome roars filled the air as the audience were then taken into the Trust’s very own Jurrasic Park, complete with ‘raptor wrangler’ Ben! Instead of dinosaurs however, our White-backed Vultures soared across the meadow, showing off their impressive wingspan in some breath-taking circuits.

The first half of the evening concluded with a special treat. Newcomer to the Trust, Sam the Bald Eagle flew over the guests, accompanied by a soundtrack as impressive as his flight: Star Wars! After a short interval, the second act started with the Bird Team presenting Sirius the Striated Caracara with his very own Mission Impossbile – to uncover tasty treats hidden within movie style props (silver flower pots!).

Our birds then took to the skies one final time in a awe-inspiring recreation of the opening scenes from the Lion King. Our Storks (all five of them for the first time ever!), Black Kites and Hooded Vultures filled the sunset sky and circled our beautiful elephant puppet, all to the stunning rendition of the Circle of Life. A really touching end to a beautiful evening of bird flight and song.

Finally, our grand finale arrived. The audience turned their attention to the skies directly above them as the one and only Red Devils circled overhead, climbing higher and higher into the sky. Once they reached 5000ft, the moment came for the parachuters to jump from the plane, twisting and turning in flight before safely landing to a rapturous round of applause.

A huge well done to all involved in this fantastic event, and to our wonderful audience. All money raised from this event goes directly towards our mission – the conservation of birds of prey.

Find out more about our upcoming events here.


The latest from Changa Manga Breeding Centre

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Recently, we caught up with WWF-Pakistan Project Manager Jamshed Chaudry about Changa Manga conservation breeding centre in Pakistan, which holds a population of Critically Endangered Asian White-backed Vultures and is part of our Pakistan Vulture Restoration Project. (more…)

A tribute to Madeleine

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We are sad to announce that Madeleine, one of our Secretary Birds, passed away last Thursday (24.03.22).  At the grand old age of 34, he reached the end of his healthy life.  The kind, yet difficult decision was taken to send him peacefully to sleep and to avoid any ongoing suffering from a heart condition brought on by old age. (more…)

Great news from Changa Manga!

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We’re thrilled to share the news of three healthy Asian White-backed Vulture chicks, a Critically Endangered species, hatched at Changa Manga! This conservation breeding centre is run by our partners WWF-Pakistan, and is a key element of our Pakistan Vulture Restoration Project, which also includes a Vulture Safe Zone to protect wild vultures.


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