Great Bustard Group
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
Our trustees have a wealth of experience across wildlife conservation and the world of business.
David K Bond
Dr Charles Goodson-Wicks
John Chitty MRCVS
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.
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.
Stalwart chick rearer and all supporter
A regular member of the field trips to Spain and an active all-round team member
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
Another multi-tasking team player
Chief Great Bustard videographer
A veteran of Spanish field work and with a very useful technical knowledge - be it with vehicles, electrical systems or cameras.
A regular fundraiser and events supporter
A team player who will undertake any task
Whatever needs doing
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.
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!