My main interests lie in the role captive-breeding and reintroductions have in the conservation of threatened species, so I am thrilled to have joined WWT as a Conservation Breeding Aviculturalist this year. I fell in love with birds whilst studying for my Zoology degree, and after graduating started volunteering at the WWT centre in Washington. My time there was an important stepping stone in my career, as the bird husbandry skills I developed enabled me to become a bird keeper at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for several years. Living in Jersey I embraced all things bird-related and spent almost all of my spare time outside of work bird ringing, bird watching or carrying out bird surveys, mentored by some very inspiring people. Having caught the fieldwork bug and eager to pursue my interest in endangered species recovery I spent time working on the olive white-eye conservation project in Mauritius before returning to Jersey as a field assistant on Durrell’s red-billed chough reintroduction project. Hand-rearing and releasing choughs into the wild and monitoring Jersey’s first wild chough nest in over a century was an incredible experience. My recent years have been focussed on seabirds as in 2016 I completed a Master of Research degree at the University of Liverpool on the foraging ecology of Northern gannets in the Channel Islands. Following this I was fortunate to return to the Indian Ocean for ten months to coordinate the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation’s seabird translocation project, leading a small team in the hand-rearing of more than 180 tropicbird and shearwater chicks. Before joining WWT this year I spent time in the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, assisting efforts to restore the islands’ threatened endemic seabird populations which included invasive predator control and the rearing of translocated Chatham albatross chicks. I find I am most stimulated by focusing my efforts on caring for a specific species and attending to the needs of individuals, and equally love working both in the field and within a captive collection.
As a Conservation Breeding Aviculturalist at WWT Slimbridge I assist in caring for the captive populations that are part of WWT’s Conservation Breeding programmes. I work as part of a small team in the day-to-day management of the insurance population of spoon-billed sandpipers, but also help look after black-tailed godwits, Baer’s pochards and ferruginous ducks. As well as the routine husbandry tasks such as feeding, cleaning and observing the birds, an important part of our work is developing and testing new methods of rearing, feeding, releasing, and monitoring which can be applied to in situ conservation projects such as the upcoming Madagascar pochard reintroduction. The role is very varied and it is so exciting to be working amongst such innovative people; we are currently piloting a novel aquaponics system with our Baer’s pochards which, if successful, could then be used to recycle water in the Madagascar pochard’s captive breeding facility and generate food plants for the ducks.