Birds of Prey and People Through the Ages
Paintings illustrating landscape change and birds of prey
Landscapes painted by John Chalkley with birds by Dr Philip Burton | This series of paintings was previously on display at the Hawk and Owl Trust's Conservation and Education Centre, Chiltern Open Air Museum before the centre closed.
Six colour posters (70cm x 50cm), with explanatory notes, relevant to the National Curriculum, depicting how a landscape may have changed from the Iron Age to the present day and the effect on birds of prey and habitats are available as a set.
- After the last Ice Age people began to make forest clearings. In the painting can be seen tawny owl, sparrowhawk, honey buzzard and long-eared owl, all species that are well suited to such habitat.
- After the Romans the landscape was opened up for more agriculture. Falconry was important in medieval life and a trained falcon can be seen in the picture, as can a hen harrier and a red kite, both of which flourished on the lowland heaths.
- In the age of enclosures new fields were created and hedges and walls became common. In the picture are birds that benefited: barn owl, short-eared owl and buzzard.
- Victorian times saw great interest in game shooting and gamekeepers began to persecute birds of prey, like the white-tailed eagle in this painting: the little owl was introduced, and Montagu's harrier identified for the first time in the UK.
- After World War II agriculture and forestry needed to become more efficient. Many bird of prey populations were hit by loss of habitat or chemicals, but species like the kestrel in the painting managed to flourish, as did the merlin, which likes young forestry plantations to breed in.
- Conservation in the recent past has benefited a number of species including those in this painting: goshawk, long-eared owl, hobby and golden eagle.