2015: Progress in year three

A record eleven chicks were raised at Paradise Park, and say hello to “Dusty”

Since September 2014 all the released birds had remained free, returning to the aviary to feed or roost when they wanted. There was an interesting difference in the behaviour of the juvenile and adult birds. The younger ones showed less interest in the quarry site (and buildings), and they went off on occasional longer exploratory flights across the island.

Birds returning to aviary for feeding and weighing

Birds returning to aviary for feeding and weighing (A Hales)

Weighing and sampling showing the birds were maintaining their weight and showing a low level of parasites. One bird was taken in for veterinary attention, after an eye injury but was released back into the flock after treatment.

The adult birds were now old enough to start showing early signs of breeding activity, so it was no surprise when two of the pairs settled on nesting sites. This was excellent news, only slightly diminished by the fact that they has decided to nest inside the building of a working quarry.

Nest Building
Two well-constructed nests were found high up, and both pairs went on to lay eggs in the harsh environment – plenty of noise, vibration, and lots and lots of dust. Pictures of the nests showed they had been lined with sheep’s wool and fibre glass. And the inside of the buildings got very hot during the main part of the day. Despite these disadvantages, both nesting pairs produced eggs and one successfully fledged a single chick!

Chough chick in quarry nest aged fourteen days

Chough chick in quarry nest aged fourteen days (Liz Corry)

The chick, named “Dusty” by quarry staff, was the first wild chough raised on Jersey in almost one hundred years – a truly remarkable feat, and hopefully the first of many more choughs on the island in the future. This bird is the culmination of thousands of hours work by hundreds of people, both paid and volunteers, and we wish him a long and fruitful life.

Dusty flying with parents - note paler bill colour

Dusty flying with parents – note paler bill colour (Liz Corry)

At Paradise Park the record number of eleven chough chicks had been produced. Eight of the newly-fledged birds (four males and four females) were collected by Lee Durrell and Colin Stephenson, and flown to join the group in Jersey. The flock size was now up to twenty-two birds, surpassing all expectations for this stage in the project.

All twenty two choughs enjoying the skies above Jersey

All twenty two choughs enjoying the skies above Jersey (A Hales)

Follow the progress of the project at www.birdsontheedge.org