Nature’s a Hoot: In Conversation with David Oakes

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It’s no secret that here at the Hawk Conservancy Trust we love talking about birds of prey! But for many species across the world, things are not looking good. It’s arguably never been more important to get excited about nature than it is today.

In February, we were delighted to welcome actor, artist and fellow wildlife podcaster David Oakes to the Hawk Conservancy Trust. He joined our  Deputy Head of Living Collection Tom Morath for a chat all about finding time for nature, tracking Golden Eagles and how arts and creativity can support conservation for the next episode of our podcast – Nature’s a Hoot.

David has been visiting the Hawk Conservancy Trust since his childhood:

“I grew up in Fordingbridge, so I’m a New Forest boy. The first time I came to the Hawk Conservancy Trust was probably 35 years ago, back in the early days. So it’s been nice seeing how it’s changed and grown over the years and now coming here with my nieces and nephew and even bringing my own daughter here for the last few trips.”

You may have seen David in period dramas such as Vikings: Valhalla, Victoria and The White Queen, the latter where he got close to a Golden Eagle while filming a traditional falconry scene. His work in the thespian world has allowed him to explore wildlife across the world, fuelling his passion for the natural world. As well as running his own nature podcast, ‘Tree’s a Crowd’ David is also an ambassador for the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

“Increasingly as the years have gone by, you see fewer and fewer birds of prey out in the wild. So it’s nice to actually come [to the Hawk Conservancy Trust] and see a great selection of birds that are being well looked after… I think there’s nothing more important than to keep people talking about the environment. I think at the moment we’re in danger of it being taken for granted.”

In the UK, we live in one of the most nature-depleted regions of the world. But amid this doom and gloom, we have to find some light at the end of the tunnel. Finding multiple ways to communicate to different audiences about the wildlife all around us is key to bringing everyone on board with our mission to conserve birds of prey. This is something Tom, the presenter of Nature’s a Hoot, and David Oakes have a shared passion for. Tom said:

“It was really special to welcome David to the Trust to chat all about the wonderful world of birds of prey, and how important it is that creativity and conservation are both needed to work together for nature. It felt that David and I shared that belief that it takes more than just facts and figures to inspire an audience, and I get the sense that we need more ideas than ever if we’re to turn the tide on the fortunes of our beloved birds of prey – so many of them now facing odds stacked against them.”

You can hear their full conversation on the new episode of Nature’s a Hoot – our podcast dedicated to birds of prey and their place in the natural world. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts!

Nature’s a Hoot Episode 18 – Bats!

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On this episode Hannah and Tom take a walk around the grounds of the Hawk Conservancy Trust after hours with Mark Ison, Bird Team member and Ecologist, to carry out a survey of the wild bat species that live on site. We learn more about these fascinating flying mammals and how to identify some of the common species found in the UK. Sadly, this is Hannah’s last episode as she is leaving the Trust for a new position, so we bid her a reluctant but fond farewell!

Hannah and Tom reminisce about her time at the Trust, and Hannah tells us about her new position. Hannah is gong on to work alongside Kevin Cumming, a previous Nature’s a Hoot guest at the John Muir Trust. We’re very sad to say goodbye to Hannah, but wish her all the best in her new adventure!

There are 17 breeding species of bat in the UK, with one remaining individual of an 18th species, the Mouse-eared Bat. Bats are important pollinators, some are specifically adapted to pollinate certain species of plant including dates, bananas and tequila! It was great to get an insight into bats with Mark, and his vast knowledge about them. We headed out into the Trust grounds, to Reg’s Meadow first, which wasn’t quite as fruitful as we had hoped. However, after a while we headed towards the Savannah Arena and were rewarded with some fabulous views of Common Pipistrelles flying over the pond in the last of the sunset! Listen to hear more about the evening.

Find out more about the uplifting story about storks in Ukraine here.

Our Matter of Fact Challenge also returns as our hosts each champion an animal species for Best Camouflage. We coincidentally both chose marine animals, because creatures of the deep are so brilliant at disguise! Will you choose Tom’s teeny tiny Pygmy Seahorse that is so adept at camouflage it was only discovered accidentally when some coral was plucked from the ocean to be examined, or Hannah’s master of disguise the Mimic Octopus, which can contort itself into the forms of other sea animals like shrimps, jellyfish and even sea snakes! Vote on our poll on Twitter, or via our Instagram stories.

Listen to this episode wherever you get your podcasts, and don’t forget to like and subscribe! Read more about our Nature’s a Hoot, and catch up on other episodes here.



Nature’s a Hoot Episode 16 – Bumblebees to Chocolate-chip Starfish

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On this episode Hannah and Tom welcome journalist, marine biologist and wildlife filmmaker, Dawood Qureshi (they/she), to hear all about their love of wildlife. From Ospreys to Dinosaurs, Bumblebees to Chocolate-chip Starfish, Dawood will share their passion for storytelling as a way to raise awareness for nature and what it’s like working for the BBC Natural History Unit. (more…)

Nature’s a Hoot episode 15 – Migration

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On this episode we explore the fascinating world of animal migration. Join Tom and Hannah as they chat about why certain species migrate, how they know where to go, and the epic distances some of them travel on their migrations.


Nature’s a Hoot episode 14 – Barn Owls in California with Jaime Carlino

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Hannah and Tom are back with a new series of Nature’s a Hoot for 2022. Join them both as they prepare for the new year ahead of them. They’re also joined by Jaime Carlino, a graduate student on the Humbolt State University’s Barn Owl Research Team. Jaime discusses how her work studying Barn Owls is helping us understand the species success when it comes to breeding. (more…)

Nature’s a Hoot: One Year On

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Hosted by our very own Tom Morath (Bird Team) and Hannah Shaw (Conservation and Research Team), Nature’s a Hoot is our monthly wildlife podcast that we’ve been airing now for a whole year. How time flies when you’re having fun!


Nature’s a Hoot Episode 13 – Job swap with Hannah and Tom

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Here you can read more about Nature’s a Hoot, and access resources, photos and extra insights from episode 13, where our podcast hosts, Hannah and Tom, swap jobs at the Hawk Conservancy Trust for a couple of days!


Nature’s a Hoot Episode 12: Raptor Senses with Dr Simon Potier

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Here you can read more about Nature’s a Hoot, and access resources, photos and extra insights from episode 12 where we welcome special guest, Scientist, falconer and raptor enthusiast Dr Simon Potier.

Listen now to the Nature’s a Hoot episode 12 Raptor Senses. Don’t forget to subscribe! (more…)

Nature’s a Hoot Episode 11: Writing for Nature with Megan McCubbin

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Here you can read more about Nature’s a Hoot, and access resources, photos and extra insights from our eleventh episode for part two with special guest, Springwatch presenter, zoologist, photographer and all-round wildlife enthusiast Megan McCubbin!

Listen now to the Nature’s a Hoot eleventh episode Writing for Nature. Don’t forget to subscribe! (more…)

Life of a Springwatch presenter with Megan McCubbin

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Here you can read more about Nature’s a Hoot, and access resources, photos and extra insights from our tenth episode where we welcome special guest, Springwatch presenter, zoologist, photographer and all-round wildlife enthusiast Megan McCubbin!

Listen now to the Nature’s a Hoot tenth episode Life of a Springwatch presenter. Don’t forget to subscribe! (more…)

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