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Simon Beard is the Community Manager at Shapwick Moor Nature Reserve 

Can you tell us about your role at the Hawk and Owl Trust?

As the only staff member at Shapwick Moor, my role is incredibly varied, and no two days are the same. I manage the practical work that needs doing and allocate volunteer teams to these tasks. It might be as mundane as filling bird feeders, clearing vegetation or fixing broken gates. On other days, it might involve ditch edge clearing or planting hedges. 

The Hawk and Owl Trust is part of partnership of conservation organisations on the Avalon Marshes and I help organise and support the joint public events that we host for visits to the area.

What do you love most about your role? 

That no two days are ever the same. Often the 'unexpected' events that occur (fallen trees, escaped livestock, collapsing paths, etc.) result in plans needing to be changed at the drop of a hat.

What were you doing beforehand? 

Before working on the Avalon Marshes, I was a teacher. I managed science departments and became a deputy of a large school.

When I’m not working on the reserve, I still carry out teacher training roles for Exeter University. I have two degrees in Ecology and after leaving full-time education and teaching, I worked for the RSPB and Natural England.

What got you into conservation? 

As a child, I was always fascinated by wildlife. Family trips to the New Forest gave me the opportunities to discover things for myself and I still find great pleasure in discovering species in new places and locations.

Last question… what’s your favourite bird? 

I love the European mountains and watching some of the larger vultures that inhabit the Alps and Pyrenees still give me huge satisfaction. The sight of a Lammergeier effortlessly soaring over a mountain peak is something I can never see enough of.

As featured in Peregrine no.113 Autumn / Winter 2020. Peregrine is the Hawk and Owl Trust twice-yearly magazine publication. Peregrine is distributed free to members, for more information on becoming a member find out more here: https://hawkandowltrust.org/payments/become-a-member 

Interview: Charlie Thompson Editor of 2020 Peregrine Magazine.

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