My friend and I were given the amazing opportunity to volunteer at the Hawk Conservancy for a few days! We were working with the conservation interns to learn more about what conservation projects the Hawk Conservancy Trust are involved in and what goes on behind the scenes! 🦅
On the first day we began with doing some biodiversity surveys on site at Reg’s wildflower meadow! We started with doing a bee and butterfly survey along a few 15m transects! 🐝 🦋 We found a range of different species including carder bees, meadow brown butterflies, honeybees, buff tailed bumblebees, a mint moth and a hoverfly!
We then watched a few of the incredible flying shows, where you get to see the birds of prey in action! Vultures nearly took us out they flew so close to our heads and kites were flying high up in the sky catching food in mid air! 😍
We then went back to the meadow and did some quadrant surveying to find out more about the plant biodiversity! 🌱🌼 We did 3 or 4 quadrats along a 15m transect and recorded all of the different plant and wildflower species and the abundance of each! There were lots of different plants including lots of knapweed, wild basil, meadow buttercups, heal-all, yarrow, wild carrot and oregano!
We then set up some small mammal traps ready to check tomorrow morning!
The next day we were up early to check the small mammal traps – we caught one wood mouse, one bank vole and three field voles! For each mammal we have to identify, age, sex and weigh it! It was really interesting to look at the prey of the local raptors 🦅 🐭
We then had an amazing opportunity to watch a few of the wild birds in the hospital being ringed! First we saw a juvenile red kite; they are even more beautiful up close! And then we watched a tawny owl being ringed; these guys have strong and sharp talons so it is important to keep away from them!
And then I actually got to ring a juvenile male sparrowhawk 😍😍 it was so incredible to see this stunning bird of prey up close!
Ringing the wild birds in the hospital, which are soon to be released, and getting retraps or recoveries from them helps us to understand their survival rates once they leave the trust!
After ringing we were back in the meadow conducting more plant quadrats and bee and butterfly surveys! Today was a much better day for insects and with help from expert insect identifier Monica, we found lots of different species, including a massive Wasp spider! 🕷
We then set some pitfall traps ready for tomorrow morning!
On our last day at the trust, we started by checking the small mammal traps early in the morning- we caught 3 wood mice (2 were possibly juveniles as they were tiny!) and also lots of bank and field voles! I have really enjoyed small mammal trapping and think I will buy some to see what small mammals are around on my farm! 🐭
We then went down to the wildlife hospital and helped treat a barn owl! He had sadly been hit by a car and wasn’t in the best of shape but will hopefully recover soon! 🤕🦉
We then did a few bird point counts – where you stand in a place for 10 minutes and record the bird species and abundance of each species you see and hear! There were so many goldfinches, also a few wild buzzards and kestrels flying over, lots of woodpigeons and a surprise of a flock of ducks! 🐦🦅🦆
After lunch we headed out into the meadow to do another plant quadrat survey – there are so many different plant and wildflower species in the meadow! Including oregano, wild basil, broomrape, yarrow and wild carrot!
We watched a few more flying shows – no matter how many times you watch them they will never get boring! 😍
And checked the pitfall traps (lots of beetles and a few spiders!) before heading home!
I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed the last three days – getting experience in the field I want to go into in the future was amazing and I learnt so much!
A massive thank you to the Hawk Conservancy Trust for having us and a special thank you to Hannah Shaw, Katie Sell and Rilee Nurse for showing us what you do and getting us involved!! 💚
We will be back soon!!