Author Archives: Ali Hales

A good year for Cornwall’s Choughs

In fact it’s been a very good year for Cornwall’s Choughs!

Chough update from Rare Bird Alert, 5th July 2016

Chough update from Rare Bird Alert, 5th July 2016

With 23 choughs chicks fledged, the 2016 breeding season has been really successful.

Of particular interest this year:

  • a pair bred in the Roseland area, probably for the first time since the 1820s
  • one-year-old birds successfully reared young
  • there are currently 54 choughs living around the coast of Cornwall

Read more on the Rare Bird Alert website here.

 

First Egg for 2016

The first chough egg for 2016 has been laid!

The female in Nest 3 was seen sitting in her beautifully-built nest just after 5pm on 31st March. Over the next 20 minutes she sat, straining a bit as she produced the egg, and then recovered for a few minutes before going outside. The image above shows her mate coming into the nest to check out the egg, gently touching it with his bill.

The first chough egg for 2016 is laid in Nest 3.

The first chough egg for 2016 is laid in Nest 3.

In 2015 the first egg of the season was laid by the same pair at lunchtime on 1st April, so they are just about a day ahead this year.

We’re looking forward to lots more eggs, and then lots of early mornings and long days to provide food for the chough families.

 

Jen Riley from Wildwood in Kent meets a chough at Paradise Park, Cornwall.

Choughs on the way to Kent

Two Red-billed Choughs bred at Paradise Park have moved to Kent, a step forward in our partnership with the Wildwood Trust.

Jen Riley from Wildwood in Kent meets a chough at Paradise Park, Cornwall.

Jennifer Riley from the Wildwood Trust, Kent, meets a friendly Red-billed Chough at Paradise Park.

Jen came to Paradise Park to work with the Keepers for a few days, learning chough husbandry techniques – both for the friendly ones and the breeding birds.

While she was here she helped to move the pairs from the winter flocking aviary to their secluded breeding aviaries. The birds have started to carry twigs, and the popular chough nestcam will soon be in action so that their progress can be followed.

Meanwhile, at the Wildwood Trust, modifications have been made to accommodate the two choughs. They will live in a large mixed-species aviary, where platforms with rocks have been installed along with roosting boxes placed at suitable vantage points and paving slabs which can be moved giving extra opportunities to forage for grubs.

 

Kent chough reintroduction?

We were pleased to host a group of chough and reintroduction specialists at Paradise Park, the home of Operation Chough, to plan for the potential reintroduction of the Red-billed Chough to the coast of Kent.

Meeting of chough and reintrduction specialists at Paradise Park, home of Operation Chough.

Meeting of chough and reintroduction specialists at Paradise Park, Cornwall.

Joining us were Prof Carl Jones from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Conservation Scientist and author on choughs Dr Malcolm Burgess, Dr Angus Carpenter from Wildwood Trust in Kent and Lawrence Sampson, PhD student at the University of Kent.

The chough currently lives in isolated populations around the UK coast – in West Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, the West of Cornwall, Northern Ireland, plus the released group on Jersey. It was once more widespread and formerly occurred in Kent where it became extinct around 160 years ago.

Items on the agenda included a presentation on the background of Operation Chough and achievements to date. The relevence of Richard Meyer’s thesis on the re-establishment of the chough in Cornwall to Lawrence’s study on the Kent coast. Breeding choughs and aviary design, facilities and opportunities for partnership with Wildwood.

In a few years time, if research shows that suitable habitat is available and with more partners, this could be a first step to seeing choughs over the white cliffs of Dover for the first time in living memory!