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    Test flying an RSPB drone

    This project has trialled its fair share of hi-tech bird monitoring techniques over the years, but we experienced a new one this week when we had the opportunity to test fly an RSPB drone. The drone was fitted with a camera, GPS device and altimeter, and we tested it around our release sites. We flew […]

    Displaying season once again

    At the project we always look forward to the beginning of March as the start of spring for the great bustards. This is when the mature males join the younger, less impressive birds in full display. The display of the great bustard is one of the strangest and most impressive in the bird world. They start by strutting with […]

    Tarpaflex donates debris netting

    Over the last few years we have found debris netting to be the ideal material to cover our bustard pens. It has two main advantages - its fine mesh size which removes the possibility of a bird becoming caught in the netting, and its softness compared to other netting types, reducing the chance of feather damage from contact […]

    Meet the Team

    The LIFE project ran from September 2010 to November 2014. For further information on the project contact Nick Folkard – nick.folkard@rspb.org.uk

    Andy Evans – Head of Nature Recovery, RSPB

    Andy is the head of the RSPB’s Nature Recovery Unit, which is responsible for delivering recovery strategies for UK species, both avian and non-avian. As well as the great bustard project he has been involved in reintroductions of corncrakes, cirl buntings and cranes. He gained a PhD in the ecology of curlew in 1988 and soon afterwards was offered his first job with the RSPB, on cirl buntings. He has worked for the RSPB continuously since 1992, and is their representative on the LIFE+ Project Steering Group.

    David Waters – Director, Great Bustard Group

    David is the director of the Great Bustard Group, and represents the GBG on the LIFE+ Project Steering Group. He has been involved with great bustards all his life, and founded the Great Bustard Group in 1998, initiating the reintroduction project in 2004. About half of his time is allocated specifically to the LIFE+ Project. The rest of his time is used for GBG work in Russia which is outside the remit of LIFE and for the running of the GBG. LIFE+ is very much about new work so the basic project still needs to be carried out, and funded as before.

    Tamás Székely – Professor of Biodiversity, Bath University

    Tamás has been Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Bath since 2000. His research interests include sexual conflict and parental care, with current research on Kentish Plover in Turkey, breeding systems in shorebirds, sexual size dimorphism and conservation of endangered shorebirds. Tamás has represented the University of Bath on the project since 2006, as a member of the Great Bustard Consortium. The University of Bath has the role of leading on monitoring throughout the project which is essential to understand what the released birds do, what food they eat, how they interact with other bustards and how they evade enemies, providing the information we need to improve the survival and reproduction of British bustards. Tamás sits on the LIFE+ Project Steering Group.

    Ian Carter – Ornithologist, Natural England

    Ian Carter has worked as an ornithologist for Natural England and its predecessors for over 20 years, focussing especially on bird reintroductions, raptors and species legislation. He has been closely involved with the Red Kite reintroduction programme in England and has written numerous papers and popular articles on this, and other, bird conservation issues. He wrote a monograph about the red kite, the second edition of which was published in 2007, and has served on the editorial board of British Birds since 1998. He has been a member of the Great Bustard Project Consultative Committee since the reintroduction started back in 2004, and now represents Natural England on the LIFE+ Project Steering Group.

    Tracé Williams – Project Manager, Great Bustard LIFE+, RSPB

    Tracé started working for the RSPB in 2001 after four years in avian research at Jersey Zoo and WWT Slimbridge. She has experience of captive breeding and hand-rearing, having reared Mauritian fody and developed the rearing technique for the Mauritian grey white-eye. Tracé is fascinated by bird behaviour, which led to an MSc from Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology, University of Kent following in-depth studies of the breeding behaviour of Bali and common starlings. For the last 10 years she has worked in Wiltshire with farmers and the MoD, creating and restoring chalk grassland, providing safe nest sites and monitoring stone-curlews. This work has involved liaison with the great bustard reintroduction project since 2004, leading to her new role as Project Manager with the LIFE+ Project in November 2010.

    Andrew Taylor – Project Adviser, Great Bustard LIFE+, RSPB

    Andrew has worked for the RSPB in Wiltshire since 2008, when he joined the Wessex Stone-curlew Project. In March 2011 he joined the LIFE+ team as one of three staff employed directly through the project. The focus of his work is to develop and promote agri-environment options for great bustards, improving bustard habitat across the project area. He is also responsible for ensuring the project release sites are managed to attract bustards throughout the year.

    Kate Ashbrook – Monitoring Officer, LIFE+ Project, University of Bath

    Kate completed her PhD in seabird ecology at the University of Leeds in 2010 before joining the LIFE+ team as Monitoring Officer in 2011. The focus of her work is to increase our knowledge of basic bustard ecology and behaviour, habitat preferences and population demography.

    Hannah Rose – Project Assistant, RSPB

    Hannah has worked on the project since March 2010, after completing a National Diploma in Countryside Management at Sparsholt College. She became Project Assistant as part of the LIFE+ Project in September 2011, and now has a variety of roles including monitoring birds, site maintenance and administration.

    Allan Goddard – Farm Liaison, Great Bustard Group

    A retired farmer from south Dorset, Allan brings a wealth of farming knowledge to the GBG where he has been volunteering since spring 2010. Allan is on site up to three days a week, advising and planting crops in the release pen, monitoring, and liaising with farmers and landowners who are lucky enough to be chosen by the great bustards!

    Lynne Derry – Visits & Retail Manager, Great Bustard Group

    Lynne has worked for the GBG for eight years and manages the visits and retail side of the project. Lynne also helps with quarantine duties and monitoring of the released birds.

    Louise Jane – Monitoring Officer, RSPB

    Louise has worked for the RSPB since 2007 on a wide variety of contracts. She has monitored breeding golden plover and lapwing in Wales and worked as part of the Wessex Stone-curlew Project for two summers. She also has experience of working with farmers and agri-environment schemes, having been farmland bird project officer in the Midlands for 18 months. She joined the project in November 2012.

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