Conservation Breeding Aviculturalist

About me

My main interests lie in the role captive-breeding and reintroductions have in the conservation of threatened species. Following a Zoology degree at the University of St Andrews, I started my conservation career as a bird keeper at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2011, gaining valuable skills in incubation and hand-rearing. In the years that followed I spent time working on Durrell’s red-billed chough reintroduction project in Jersey, and also in Mauritius on the Critically Endangered olive-white eye conservation project. In 2016 I completed a Master of Research degree on the spatial ecology of Northern gannets in the Channel Islands, before returning to Mauritius to coordinate the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation’s seabird translocation project, leading a small team in the translocation and hand-rearing of over 180 tropicbird and shearwater chicks. Before joining WWT’s Conservation Breeding Unit in 2018 I spent time on New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, assisting the Chatham albatross translocation project.

Work

As a Conservation Breeding Aviculturalist at WWT Slimbridge I work as part of a small team caring for the captive populations that are part of WWT’s Conservation Breeding programmes. My work mainly focuses on the day-to-day management and breeding of the spoon-billed sandpipers and in 2018 I was extremely fortunate to assist in rearing our first captive-bred spoon-billed sandpiper chick. I also help look after black-tailed godwits and Baer’s pochards and in addition to the routine husbandry tasks, 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 Madagascar pochard reintroduction. The Conservation Breeding team also implements a number of headstarting projects and in 2019 I was part of the Project Godwit headstarting team, which involved hatching, rearing and releasing 48 black-tailed godwits at WWT Welney.

Skills

  • Avian husbandry
  • Incubation and hand-rearing of passerines, wildfowl, seabirds and waders.
  • Bird ringing, surveying and monitoring
  • Seabird translocation techniques
  • Remote fieldwork, mountaineering and ropework
  • Data analysis using R and GIS software