Great Bustard Group

Prince Charles with a Bustard

Patron

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales

The Great Bustard Group has been honoured with the patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. HRH Prince of Wales visited the project base on Salisbury Plain in 2017. He became patron in 2019.

Having a Royal patron provides vital publicity for the work of our organisation, and recognises the enormous achievement and contribution to society and the environment.

Read More

Trustees

Our trustees have a wealth of experience across wildlife conservation and the world of business.

David K Bond

Chairman of the Trustees

John Browning

Kevin Duncan

Paul Goriup

David Scott


Vice Presidents

CharlesGoodson

Dr Charles Goodson-Wicks

John chitty

John Chitty MRCVS


TEAM

Our passionate & experienced team delivers real world tangible results. We have a can-do attitude backed up by more than 23 years experience restoring lost species and protecting the environment.

david waters Marlborough Hall david waters

David Waters

Executive Officer

The former policeman set up the Great Bustard Group in 1998 after becoming fascinated by the birds as a teenager. “I remember thinking all the interesting birds live in places like Papua New Guinea or the Galapagos,” he said.

“Then I remember seeing displaying male bustards, and thinking no matter how far you go I don’t think you will see a better sight in the bird world than that.”

David Waters, whose passion and vision has seen the project through from inception to a position where a self-sustaining population of Great Bustards in Wiltshire is now a realistic prospect, has been appointed Executive Officer and will be responsible for membership and fundraising, PR, egg collection and physical import and representation on International Organisations.

David will also manage the expansion of the reintroduction of Great Bustards to new regions including East Anglia and Lincolnshire where Great bustards were once naturally well established. He will also be responsible for a captive breeding programme for Great Bustards that we have not been able to release into the wild.

 

 

karen waters

Karen Waters

Financial Officer

Tim Edwards

Operations Director

Ruth Manvell

Sightings / records

tillie waight

Tillie Waight

Retail Manager

Jane Hiett

Stalwart chick rearer and all supporter

Nigel Cope

A regular member of the field trips to Spain and an active all-round team member

Allan Goddard

Made several trips to Russia and a regular in Spain - or in house agricultural advisor and also does most of our tractor work and maintains our tractor and implements

Adrian Wells

Another multi-tasking team player

steve colwill

Steve Colwill

Chief Great Bustard videographer

charles hibberd

Charles Hibberd

A veteran of Spanish field work and with a very useful technical knowledge - be it with vehicles, electrical systems or cameras.

Lenka Panakova

A regular fundraiser and events supporter

John Biscomb

A team player who will undertake any task

Trevor Bradfield

Whatever needs doing


Mascots

fergus

Fergus

Fergus came from an egg the GBG and its partner organisation in Russia, the A N Severtsov Institute of Ecology rescued from the cultivators in 2004. This was the first year the GBG brought birds into the UK. The story was covered by the BBC tv correspondent Fergus Walsh. To his frustration the Russians really struggled with the sounds of “Fergus” and he was usually addressed as “Fur-goose”, and he never gave up trying to correct them.
That year the GBG brought 22 birds into the UK. They had to undergo a very strict 30 days of quarantine and it was at the very end of this period that one male bird, in a short trial flight, bashed is wing up and along with other damage  dislocated his left shoulder. Despite excellent veterinary care the should could not be repaired and the male was moved to an aviary. Karen Waters has looked after him ever since. The name “Fergus” was given to him very early on and it has stuck. Fergus has lived with various other birds, including some females but his injury puts him off balance and the other birds will attack him if he falls over.
He appears to greatly enjoy people, sometimes interacting with a series of barks, grunts and a distinctive baying noise. He does sometimes tire of guests and then gives them a good peck. Over the years he has taken a small piece from the limbs of  celebrities including John Craven, Ray Mears and other dignitaries like Her Majesties Yeoman Ravenmaster from the Tower of London.

Fergus

About Fergus
gertrude

The Stonehenge Bustard (Gertrude)

In 2009 the GBG was operating an egg rescue programme in Saratov Oblast in southern Russia with its project partner, the Severtsov Institute of Ecology. One of the chicks raised from this operation has become famous as, Gertrude. She was reared in the same way as the other chicks, with some elaborate measures to avoid habituation or imprinting on humans. These measures included using feeding puppets and dehumanisation suits. Gertrude, and her alone, became more attached to humans than any other bird we have reared. She lives with other female Great Bustards for most of the year, but every spring, when the other females fly to the lek, where the males are displaying, Gertrude flies across to Stonehenge and is clearly attracted by the crowds of people there. She spends the early part of the spring at the Stones, interacting with the visitors and staff, and for these few months, Gertrude is quite tame. She then flies off to join the other females later in the summer.

Gertrude

About Gertrude

Henry

Great Bustards typically nest in crops and seem to like the cover it affords them. The females sit very tightly and very flat and are absolutely motionless on the approach of anyone. When the GBG was searching for nests in Spain (all fully licensed and supported by the very helpful Spanish government), we found it very hard to find the nests. The females would not flush and reveal the nest unless the searcher was within a metre or two, sometimes mere centimetres of standing on the nest.

David Waters brought his dogs out to Spain each year and the combination of their scenting abilities and the disturbance they create by quartering back and forth encourages the females to flush and reveal the nest. The technique is also used to save nesting females from the dangers of spring mowing in England.

The dogs are well travelled, have been to Spain for 5 seasons and are well trained. When working in Spain they would eat four times their usual diet, and still lose weight!

Dogs

About Dogs

Partners

The GBG is assisted in its efforts by its project partners that believe in a shared vision to restore the great bustard back to the UK.


Financial Supporters

Funding grants awarded to the GBG.