The fine weather has brought a flurry of egg-laying activity.
A Fourth Egg in Nest Three
On Saturday we eggs were laid in nests one, two, and three. (It is likely that the third egg in nest 3 was laid overnight on Friday).
On Sunday, another egg arrived in nest 3, this was first noticed at lunchtime.
Monday brought three more eggs, with additions in nests one and three. Later in the afternoon we had the arrival of the first egg in nest five. This may be a record, as the female in the nest will be nineteen years old this year – making her the oldest known breeding chough.
It gets more difficult to give exact timings, as the females are now sitting on the eggs for longer periods, as incubation begins in earnest.
So, the total at the end of Monday 10th April – nine eggs in four nests, with more on the way…
Just a few days later than last year, we have our first chough egg.
It was laid by the female in nest 3 – she was also the first of our birds to lay last year. She went on to lay four eggs in total. Two of the chicks which hatched were later taken away to be hand-reared.
This female is a seven year-old, and has laid several clutches in the past. Her male partner is a very good parent – taking good care of the chicks when hatched.
Our breeding birds are now in the seclusion aviaries, and nest-building is under way.
Screen shot of all five 2017 nest boxes.
We have installed new high-definition cameras, which show amazing detail of the activities in the nest boxes.
So far, we have four good nests – all from proven breeding pairs. Nest four is a new pairing, and we are still hopeful of nesting soon.
The female in nest five was hatched in 1998, making her nineteen years old this year! She has built a wonderful nest, and will probably lay a clutch of eggs. The clutch she laid last year was infertile, but she may be used as a foster-parent if the opportunity arises.
The webcam can be seen here.
Six young choughs bred at Paradise Park this year have gone to Jersey to be released.
Lee Durrell and Colin Stevenson collected them by plane on August 31st, arriving at Perranporth airfield, near Truro, as they have done in previous years. Lee and Colin were accompanied by Durrell staff Bea Detnon and Jessica Maxwell.
Going by plane saves many hours travelling by ferry, and we are very grateful for Lee and Colin’s help with this. The flight takes just over an hour and means the young choughs will be in the release aviary by the afternoon, after veterinary checks.
Six choughs ready for their longest flight so far (Pic R Hales)
Chough Re-introduction Field Manager at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Liz Corry, was waiting for the birds to arrive. She has planned for the arrival in advance.
The six choughs bred at Durrell Wildlife Park were released a few weeks ago. These birds are to be mentors for the new arrivals. They have been lured back into the release aviary and the Paradise Park birds will join them.
After a short period of quarantine, the whole group of twelve will be let out together to mix with the larger flock. The six local birds will share invaluable knowledge with the new birds, improving their chances of survival.
It is incredibly gratifying to see at first hand the young birds we have raised heading off to be released. Just four months ago we were feeding and weighing these youngsters, and now they are off to Big School…
Chough chick being monitored and weighed. May 2016. (Pic A Hales)
Today is Operation Chough’s Birthday!
Chough flying at sunset. The Lizard 2002. Pic Ray Hales.
We have long admired the Red-billed Chough’s intelligence and beauty – how could we not be inspired to help this magnificent bird and see it flying again over coastlines where it had disappeared?
Mike Reynolds and Robin Hanbury Tenison August 4th 1987
The official launch was back in 1987 – not a good time for chough-lovers as the species had died out in Cornwall. But things were about to change…
The natural recolonisation by three birds in 2001 gave us great opportunities to observe the behaviour of wild birds right on our doorstep.
A breeding pair of wild Choughs on the Cornish coast 2016. Pic Ray Hales.
In the 1980s we had had some success in breeding choughs here at Paradise Park, but it was just one or two chicks a year, as we learned what they needed. Now we have become somewhat expert and our captive pairs produce around ten chicks each year.
Chough chick aged 24 days being weighed. Ray Hales 2014.
This has enabled us to fulfil our objective on Jersey and with the help of our hard-working partners at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, thirty – yes THIRTY – choughs are now living free on the island after an absence of 100 years. The method used for the Jersey release is a template for further re-establishment to help join up the scattered populations and spread genetic diversity.
Choughs on Jersey going to Roost. Pic Liz Corry.
Long live the chough!
In fact it’s been a very good year for Cornwall’s Choughs!
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.