Chough report: January 2013

Report from Liz Corry

Captive choughs at Durrell

Gianna. Photo by Fiona MarchantGianna continued visiting the vets at the start of the year to have her bandage changed until the 9th when it was removed. Another x-ray showed improvement, but she was put on a five-day course of anti-inflammatory pain killers as a precaution. It took her some time to get used to not having the ball bandage on and to realise she could use her foot again.

Gianna was caught up and moved to an off-show enclosure (X1B) on the 11th so we could provide her with more flight space whilst her condition improved. She weighed 275g on moving her.

Juvenile and breeding pairs in display aviary January 2013. Photo by Liz CorryOn the 26th we moved the three juveniles not marked for release up to the display aviary. They were kept in the shut-off area for two days before being released to allow them to acclimatise to the new surroundings and for the breeding pairs to get used to them. Typically, upon release, Tristan and Issy were the first ones to swoop down and check out the new arrivals. Arthur and Gwinny showed some interest, but on the whole left them alone.

B6977 with incoloy rings. Photo by Liz CorryThe three juveniles are the birds we have been testing with dummy radio tags and incoloy gull rings. We fitted B6976 ♂ with an incoloy ring using a new pair of ringing pliers specially adapted for the job. Thanks go to our Maintenance Department volunteer for his impressive metal work skills. There seems to be no further damage to the dummy tags or birds and no abrasions etc from the ring. All positive signs for the release birds.

Chough box with camera. Photo by Liz CorryWork began on fitting nest-box cameras at the end of the month. We will be using a different type of camera this year with a much better resolution. The camera is a different size and style so the existing nest-boxes have had to be modified. This year we have worked on making them tamper proof so the parents can’t move the lens off the nest. However, these cameras have a lot more infra-red lights on them (improving dusk/dawn image quality) which Chough box with camera. Photo by Liz Corrycould create a distraction or the birds could ignore them completely. Either way we will be watching closely to see how the birds behave in the box. If we think the new cameras are not working out we will have to modify.

Progress of the release aviary

Work on the release aviary started again after the winter festivities. Aaron kindly loaned us his lockable trailer once again so materials could be stored on site. The shed end is looking more like a shed and the netting is finally on the polytunnel.

Progress on release aviary. January 2013. Photo by Liz CorryHowever, yet again Trevor and his team had to battle the elements and the day snow came to Jersey was the day they finally had to down tools. One ongoing issue is the strong winds which puts a stop to any work involving a ladder. The other growing worry was that the snow and non-stop rain have completely saturated the fields and the truck was starting to churn up the ground beyond repair.

Once these issues can be resolved work will continue, but it now means that the completion date will be nearer the end of February. On the plus side it has freed up Trevor to come back to the Wildlife Park and fit the new nest box cameras.


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