Chough report: August 2013

Maiden flight of green. Photo by Annette LoweBy Liz Corry

Radio transmitters and veterinary health checks

The four remaining birds without transmitters were caught up on the 20th to have new transmitters attached. In the process the other three were also caught to check there were no issues with their new transmitters.

None of the choughs had completed their moult. However, they are at a very advanced stage and therefore fine for a release. It was noted that a knot was loose on a couple of transmitters that had been fitted last month. This was not deemed a huge concern since they are attached in other places including the transmitter being glued to the feather shaft.

Habitat management

Sheep at Sorel. August 2013. Photo by Liz Corry This month the National Trust began treating designated areas of bracken with an herbicide as part of their removal programme. Asulox was applied using a hand sprayer. As a safety precaution all the sheep were temporarily removed from the cliffs and housed in the aviary field for four weeks.

The choughs did not seem to mind having new neighbours. In fact it probably provided a novel form of enrichment. Choughs and sheep at Sorel. August 2013. Photo by Liz CorryThe sheep were moved back out before the end of the month.

Soft release underway

The soft release phase began at the end of August (report). The first day went better than imagined with three birds venturing outside. Albeit on the shelving around the aviary. Green (PG) had the honour of taking the maiden flight onto the roof of the aviary and around the tops of the hedges, but didn’t go far. When it came to calling them back after 30 minutes the whole group flew down to the shed end for the food. Green was faced with the dilemma of how to get through roof netting to reach the food. After a quick brainstorming session he remembered where the hatches were and flew back in.

The second night was similar in that three ventured outside this time being a bit more adventurous. When it came time to call them back the three were on the roof of the shed. Eager to get to food two of them worked out straight away where to go. Red (RD), on the other hand, was completely baffled and spent the next two hours trying to figure out how to get in. Her dilemma was twofold: how to get to the food through netting?; how to get to the food without leaving her partner, Orange (OR), who was locked in the shed? She ended up spending the night on the roof. At 6am when keepers returned she was still perplexed. By 9am she had been coaxed inside by giving the birds in the aviary access to the whole polytunnel. As they flew to the end where the hatches are she followed. After a few minutes of letting her familiarise herself with the shelving the aviary birds were shuffled back and the hatches were opened.

As this is a pilot study Red’s experience has provided an opportunity to learn and improve. Roosting boxes have now been added outside the aviary in case a bird repeats her experience. This might also act as another anchor for keeping the birds close to the aviary and reduce the need to search for roost sites further away.




Chough update: setbacks and personal agendas

Chough looking for food at Ronez Quarry. Photo by Liz CorryBy Liz Corry


On 6th September things changed and, with the Ronez 2 pair back we had four other birds living in the quarry instead. Now, with four different, and very individual, birds out we had to learn again how to find each one. Several times a day. We managed to get some insects to all four birds by the next weekend but the wind and rain made it impossible to get adequate supplies down onto the ledges (think mealworms flying backwards over your head). On the 18th we became very worried about OR as his signal suggested that he was no longer moving and had been in the same spot for a while. However, very sadly, while trying to pinpoint his exact whereabouts in a difficult area within the quarry, a second bird (WT) was collected freshly dead by Ronez personnel from the floor of the quarry. Gross post mortem results seem to point at starvation. This was very worrying as we were seeing the birds foraging, suggesting that either they can’t find anything suitable to eat or that they are very naïve in their foraging (we do not know how much food is even available as we cannot safely access the foraging sites).

Chough looking for food at Ronez Quarry. Photo by Liz CorryImmediately after the sad discovery of WT we watched the two surviving quarry birds (DB and BK) actively foraging but also flying around well, calling and looking fit and healthy. We accompanied the quarry manager in a further, thorough, attempt to locate OR but although we could get within a few metres it was unsafe to get right into the probable site we were getting a signal from. This meant we had effectively to write off OR as lack of any movement after more than two days could only really mean one thing. Losses like this, while upsetting to all involved, add to our understanding in this project and in fine-tuning the release. We always knew, and were pre-warned by colleagues who have led very successful release projects of this nature, that there would be losses along the way. As you can imagine though, the knowledge that losing some birds was inevitable did little to soften the blow.

DB and BK continued to look good, looked fit and active and must have been getting at least some food. We gained too in confidence that as they settled into a routine we could supplement their food in the quarry more. On the 21st, with an anglers’ catapult, we got insects down to the two choughs where they were and from there on they seemed to remember their training. Within a couple of days the two were hopping over the quarry fence to Ronez Point when called and getting plenty of food, and plenty of attention!Choughs at Ronez Point. Photo by Liz Corry

Choughs: birds with their own agenda

Meanwhile, back in the aviary the birds were fine and continuing to respond well to the whistle. We went back to the release plans for these three birds and once again it seems that they themselves are working to their own, well planned, agenda. On the 23rd the three choughs went out and safely came back on call. Then, the following day as the hatches were opened, MV and PG, the Ronez 2, without any hesitation, not even bothering to look around, flew straight to the quarry, passing DB and BK as they went in. They had to have planned that one! That night they once again slept in the conveyor (DB and BK have slept each night on the quarry cliffs).

Choughs at Ronez Point. Photo by Liz CorryAnd………. As if the personal plans of the Ronez 2 weren’t enough to be getting on with, as I returned to the aviary to say goodnight to RD who had decided to stay indoors, DB was there waiting for me! She went straight in and joined RD after 18 nights away! BK, however, spent the night alone in the quarry.

What will they do next?

We woke, worried about how BK was faring alone but she quickly came for food. Back at the aviary, DB weighed herself on the scales and could be seen to be at her normal weight. The Ronez 2 pair flew around a bit, ignored BK, and went back to the aviary and let themselves in. This is pretty well what they were meant to do, to go out, explore, learn about the wild and come back to the aviary for security and food while they adapt to freedom. We just wish they would all do it at the same!

Lessons learned

Choughs at Ronez Point. Photo by Liz CorryWe always knew that there would be setbacks; this is a trial, a pilot study, because no one really knew how captive-reared choughs would adapt to the wild. It is becoming apparent that individual birds all have their own characters and this individuality may be the very key to their survival chances. So, while there have been some very sad and dispiriting days, we will continue with the momentum of this trial. The sight of these beautiful birds, and the interest and excitement being generated by their release, is so very encouraging.


Further woe for turtle doves

Turtle dove in St Ouen's Bay. Photo by Miranda Collett

From British Ornithologists’ Union

Can things get worse for turtle doves in northern Europe (for example, if you can’t shoot them at home, shoot them on holiday)? Possibly, for the first time anyone knows, none nested in Jersey this year when only 20 years ago they were common in places and their purring was a well-known summer sound. To understand what may be behind this region-wide decline, all aspects of the species’ ecology are being investigated, including the effects of disease. See updates on this beautiful bird through Operation Turtle Dove.

Very little is known about some of the potential problems facing turtle doves on their breeding grounds in Europe, their wintering grounds in Africa and their migration routes. But could disease be an additional problem for this fast-declining bird?

Scientists from the University of Leeds, along with the RSPB, have been working on this and recently published a paper

Turtle dove. Photo by Mick DrydenColumbidae (doves and pigeons) appear to be more susceptible to some diseases than other species, and being gregarious, the transmission of disease can easily spread from one bird to another. Trichomoniasis is a disease commonly found in Columbidae and is caused by the Trichomonas gallinae parasite. It is known to be a problem for the endangered Mauritius pink pigeon for example, where it can result in high mortality in young pigeons in the nest. It has recently been found in greenfinches, passed on via infected garden bird feeders, and led to a 35% decline in greenfinch numbers within a year in the UK (see BOTE reports here and here).

The joint study aimed to establish whether the parasite was present in wild turtle doves, as well as in three other related species – collared doves, woodpigeons and stock doves. It also aimed to understand the disease better and find out whether the parasite found in doves and pigeons is the same strain as that killing greenfinches.

The team found the parasite present in all four pigeon and dove species, but turtle doves and collared doves were the most likely to carry the parasite with 86% being infected. This was the first time that the parasite has been confirmed in turtle doves in the UK. Unlike the other Columbidae studied, turtle doves rely on seed food all year and they are a migratory species. Increased agricultural efficiency has reduced the availability of arable weed seeds during the period when turtle doves migrate back to Europe from Africa and it is possible that this food stress makes them more susceptible to disease.

Turtle dove. Photo by Romano da CostaOn farms where supplementary food was put out for game birds, more of the doves and pigeons were found to have the parasite. This suggests that in a similar way to the disease being passed between greenfinches on garden feeders, the parasite can be passed between wild birds on farms. This is likely to be due to a food source, whether supplementary feeding or accidental spillages, attracting a lot of birds to the same place, meaning it is easier for the parasite to pass between birds of different species. Of the birds that were shown to have the parasite, hardly any were showing clinical signs of the disease, such as saliva round the beak, so it is unclear what effect, if any, this parasite is actually having.

Four strains of this parasite were identified, but more work is needed to find out whether any of these are identical to the strain killing greenfinches. Overall, as well as providing the first evidence of the extent of infection in turtle doves in the UK, this work also highlights the need to understand the effects and implications of Trichomonas parasites on the host bird.

This work was jointly funded by the RSPB and Natural England through the Action for Birds in England Partnership.

Ronez support Birds On The Edge

Tracking choughs in Ronez Quarry. Photo by Glyn YoungIn order to closely monitor the choughs we need to be able to see as well as possible what they are up to. If, as seems to be the current trend, they chose to live in the quarry then it makes sense to be able to see into this potentially hazardous (to the team, not the birds) and, naturally, secured site. On Wednesday (11th September) the choughs’ kind, and proud, hosts, Ronez (Aggregate Industries), gave us permission to access their viewing platform high above the southern rim of the quarry. For this privilege we will need to don high visibility jackets, helmets and protective glasses. We also undertook appropriate safety training.

On our first visit to the platform, we quickly spotted the four birds on grassy wide ledges directly below us. Everyone at the quarry has taken their chough visitors to heart and have ensured that they are recognised and their safety looked out for. We are particularly thankful to Kirsten Du Heaume, Yvonne le Cornu and Robin Jenkins for their support and interest in the birds.

Neil, Liz, Kirsten and Robin. Ronez Quarry. Photo by Glyn Young

Ronez Quarry 11-9-2013. Photo by Glyn Young


Chough release update – where’s Wally?

Chough waits at a hatch. Photo by Liz CorryBy Liz Corry

The return of the Ronez 2 and back to the plan

Shortly after the last update, our two choughs, the Ronez 2, chose to go back to the plan and re-joined the flock in the aviary none the worse for their sojourn in the quarry. After the pair settled, we returned to the plan for slowly releasing the choughs. On the afternoon of 6th September we opened the hatches again. This release started off promising: all the choughs left the aviary within the first three minutes. Green and Mauve (the Ronez 2 pair) were the first to leave as expected and went onto the first target board outside the aviary. The rest quickly followed.

So much for plans

We watched nervously as a flock of crows appeared heading to Mourier Valley. I think the choughs were vocalising before flying up, but all I remember was seeing the crows detour to the aviary and all the choughs take to the sky. There was lots of circling and calling (mostly the choughs). There was no aggression just mutual intrigue. As the crows lost interest and the choughs headed towards Mourier Valley I decided to call them back. It would have meant they only had 15 minutes outside but that was better than losing the group.

Whether the calling scared them or they ignored me, I will never know, but it certainly didn’t change their flight pattern. Once over the valley they turned towards the cliffs and split up. Five were on the cliff path close to the aviary; White somehow became separated and was seen flying inland to the Sorel Point car park. In the meantime Red and Orange had made it over to the other side of Mourier Valley and could be seen probing the ground seemingly content. Green and Mauve returned to the aviary, possibly in response to whistles, or because they knew the lay of the land, and were locked in.

Then, to add to the stress, as rain appeared from the west, Red and Orange flew inland but back towards the aviary. For some reason only Red returned, resuming her previous ‘post-release’ position on top of the shed roof! The rain at this stage became too heavy and the team called a halt to the search and retreated. When the rain stopped and we returned to the aviary, Red was still on the roof and was lured in quicker than last time.

The radio-tracking gear told us that the remaining four had split up. Two by the aviary, one still in the field by the car park and one at the bike track. We were not able to see them as the light had gone by this stage.

Back at first light

Nothing had really changed when we returned at 06.00 on Saturday which, understandably, was worrying with still no choughs in sight. Our immediate concerns were for the two signals by the aviary. To save an agonising, minute by minute, account of the dawn searches, we can say that we found one chough hiding in the low hedgerow close to the aviary alive and well. Well enough to fly off towards the car park. The second bird we picked up down the east side of Sorel Point.

We found White was also hiding in a low hedge in the barley field by the car park. On location she flew off towards the bike track and carried on to the east side of the quarry. So, by 08.00, we had established that all were alive and well and in the quarry and were eventually able to see three of them feeding on a high bank, their calls carrying well on the wind. It took the best part of the day for White to join up with the other three: when they did so, they settled at the top of the quarry on the south-west corner. They roosted there on Saturday night on the bank rather than in a building and stayed in the quarry throughout Sunday.

Where’s Wally?

While we had more rain and strong winds, plus motorbike races, on Sunday the four choughs appeared to settle well in the quarry. And there they have stayed. We can follow their movements thanks to the tracking equipment and are learning to spot their distant activities through binoculars and telescopes. It’s surprising how many shadows, rabbit holes or dark rocks can suddenly look like birds from a distance.  And a group of four crows live in the quarry. However, we are becoming very adept at differentiating choughs from crows when they are so far away you can often only barely tell they are birds: our own game of Where’s Wally? Luckily choughs do get up and fly around and call in a way that only choughs can.

They are there somewhere. Photo by Liz Corry

Spotted them? If you look closely, they are right in the middle of the The view through Neil's telescope. Photo by Liz Corrypicture. If you use Neil’s telescope, however, they look like this!

And, as for the three in the aviary. They seem ok, eating well and responding to the whistle. Red does look a little forlorn by herself – last week she sat on the aviary roof all night rather than be separated from Orange. Now she doesn’t know where he’s gone.

Airport skylark survey 2013

Jersey Airport. June 2013. Photo by Glyn YoungOn Wednesday, 26th June, we conducted our annual survey of the skylarks Alauda arvensis and meadow pipits Anthus pratensis at Jersey Airport. As ever, this is one of the hardest monitoring exercises we undertake each year. It’s also the only one where we need security clearance before even setting foot on the grass. The airport is obliged by law to manage its entire site to dissuade large birds from coming into proximity of the planes and the length of the grass throughout the area is very important. All bird-friendly plants are discouraged too but strangely both skylarks and meadow pipits seem to thrive here.

Jersey Airport is now almost the last site for breeding skylarks in the Channel Islands. None have bred at Les Landes for two years and, it appears, there are now none in St Ouen’s Bay away from the Blanche Banques where there are only a small number of birds despite protection for their nest sites. Sadly, now, even at the Airport numbers are declining although how much this is the impact of consecutive poor springs is unclear.

Jersey Airport. June 2013. Photo by Glyn YoungThe skylark team this year, Tony Paintin, Hester Whitehead and Glyn Young once again covered the grassy areas of the airport either side of the runway while remaining very visible at all times and keeping in radio contact with Air Traffic Control throughout. There are very sensitive areas that the team cannot enter and we all have to withdraw to a safe point when a plane is landing, taking off or taxiing.

Skylarks are never very easy to count as some birds can stay put in the grass while others fly up and sing at us. We walk out in a line and record each lark and pipit. Whatever the failings in our technique are though, we have used the same methodology since 2006, and we are beginning to see a trend in numbers developing. This year we counted only 26 larks, our lowest figure so far.


Singing   males

Flushed   birds      


Meadow pipits

15June 2006





12June 2007





5 June 2008





24June 2009





9 June 2010





27 July 2011





27June 2012

26June 2013










Once again we are indebted to the airport authorities for allowing us to count the birds and for helping with security clearance and for providing radios and high-visibility vests etc.

Radio and tv towers killing birds: the solution may be simple

Black-throated blue warbler. Photo by Kevin Grundy www.pannyfants.blogspot.comFrom ABC News

TV and radio towers, blamed for nearly 7 million bird deaths each year in North America are doing the most damage to species that can hardly afford the loss, according to a new study published in Biological Conservation.

In the United States and Canada, at least 97% of the birds that crash into the towers, or the guy wires that hold them up, are the tiny songbirds – mostly warblers – that are considered “birds of conservation concern”.

The latest study comes from the same researchers, members of the Los Angeles-based Urban Wildlands Group, that warned last year of the spiralling mortality of birds that are attracted to the lights, usually red, atop the towers. The lights are required by the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for any tower over 200 feet tall, and there are thousands in North America that are more than 10 times that height.

Black-throated blue warbler. Photo by Mick DrydenThe deaths usually occur during the nocturnal migration of songbirds, especially when the cloud ceiling is low and there is fog or rain. The lights create an illuminated area around the tower and it is thought the birds become confused, switch off their night navigation and begin to spiral around the tower. Some run into the support cables, or into each other, and plunge to the ground.

Travis Longcore, from the University of Southern California and lead author of the current study, said his group wanted to look beyond the sheer numbers and focus on which types of birds were suffering the greatest loses, based chiefly on the number of deaths compared to the overall population estimate of each species.

“Many bird species are killed at towers disproportionate to their abundance,” the study says.

Swainson's warbler. Photo from Powdermill Bird Obs, Pennsylvania“This lets us look at this (the tower deaths) as a factor in the trajectory of the population”. The study indicates that towers are a very significant factor for a number of species, especially small songbirds, some of which are declining in numbers overall.  The researchers found that 58% of the birds killed each year are warblers, including Swainson’s warbler Limnothlypis swainsonii, which loses 8.9% of its population each year, and the black-throated blue warbler Dendroica caerulescens loses 5.6%. It’s not just songbirds though, each year yellow rail Yellow rail. Photo by Sand Bluff Bird Observatory www.sandbluff.orgCoturnicops noveboracensis loses about 9% of its total population because of communications towers, many of which are taller than the Empire State Building.

In addition to communications towers, however, the birds have to fend off cats and other predators, and many are killed when they crash into windows, as urban dwellers know so well. So towers are only part of the problem, but this study suggests they may be more significant than had been thought, at least for certain species.

A solution?

Some recent experiments have shown that a flashing (blinking) light attracts fewer birds than a light that remains on. The FAA recently ruled that tower operators may switch to blinking lights, and some have done so. It could be too that when a steady light is replaced by a blinking light, the birds simply leave. This is not an expensive modification but the results may be immediate.

This research is, of course, based on estimates, some of which wildly disagree with estimates from other researchers, and that may be partly because the situation varies so dramatically across the country. And just simply collecting the data is difficult. Longcore pointed out that a dead bird doesn’t hang around very long.

“Scavengers and predators and decomposers are incredibly effective,” he said. In one case an owl was spotted as it zipped through the night sky and grabbed small birds before they even hit the ground.

However, sometimes it’s easier to find how many birds have died. Scientists found that an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 birds, mostly Lapland Longspurs, were killed on Jan. 22, 1998, near a 420-foot tower in western Kansas. It happened, as is often the case, during a heavy snowstorm. See bibliography of bird kills in USA here

And the number of kills from towers still lags far behind the estimated number of deaths caused by birds hitting windows. And still, the estimates vary widely. One group of researchers, for example, estimated that the number of window-kills was somewhere between 97.6 million to 976 million annually.

Longcore said he believes that if most towers are modified, just by switching to flashing lights, many more songbirds will be around to serenade us in our gardens.

The situation with tall masts in the Channel Islands is unclear. However, there are such things such as those on the north coast of Jersey and this may be an area for future research.


Back To Work at Sorel

By Liz Corry and Anna Plunkett-Cole

Back to Work's new sheep fencing at Sorel. August 2013. Photo by Liz CorryBack to Work and the National Trust for Jersey joined forces in March and launched a new volunteer scheme to undertake a wide range of conservation tasks and provide placements and skills training for locally qualified jobseekers.

The volunteer scheme, which has seen some 60 jobseekers improve their employability by completing a diverse range of projects from meadow restoration to maintenance of Trust properties, is among a number of projects being run by Back to Work.

In July a small team of jobseekers, supervised by Piers Sangan (Sangan Island Conservation Ltd.), were hard at work preparing ground and erecting sheep fencing up at Sorel. Two fields, owned by the National Trust, were sown with grass seed last year with the intention of providing extra grazing sites for the Manx Loaghtan sheep. However, the perimeters of the fields needed to be secured with fencing before the sheep could be moved in.

Back to Work sheep fencing at Sorel. August 2013. Photo by Liz CorryOne of those fields is the site of the chough release aviary and, therefore, the sheep fencing serves a dual purpose. Keep the sheep from straying and keep the sheep from the aviary! Whilst Manx Loaghtans are a mild mannered animal they will eat their way through just about anything and everything.

The team did a great job working in some of the hottest conditions of the year to date. Hopefully, the sheep will be able to reap the benefits of everyone’s hard labour in preparing the fields.

The Back to Work team is based at Social Security and was set up in response to rising unemployment in the Island. It administers all government employment schemes and explores new initiatives to reduce unemployment by working with employers and locally qualified jobseekers to provide sustainable employment opportunities.

Choughs fly again in Jersey!

Well, Wednesday afternoon (28th August) was rather exciting/stressful. We planned to open the shutters at the Sorel aviary to the outside world for 30 minutes at 1700. This first step should be considered part of the training for the birds rather than an ‘official’ release. The idea is that the birds get a few minutes outside each day with the access time lengthened slowly until the birds are left completely at liberty. While the birds may or may not choose to go out of the aviary they will be called in again after 30 minutes and shut inside again.

This soft-release process will be repeated daily until late-September when the birds may remain at liberty unless specifically called back in (they will be fed daily and watched closely for the foreseeable future whatever happens). The first opening of the hatches was not made into an event, mostly because something could have gone wrong or, much more likely, they would not actually go out at all on the first day.

Release Day 1 (28th August)

The first chough out (PG). 28-8-2013. Photo by Annette LoweFirst flight! Photo by Rick Jones, DurrellThe shutters were duly opened at 1700 and we had 30 minutes of ‘freedom’ and three birds wandered outside. One chough flew round a bit but not far from aviary and came in when called. Not a bad start! The birds behaved very well and the value of training and Liz’s hard work were obvious. Target platforms have been put up outside of the aviary to give the birds their own and recognisable perching spots outside the aviary.

Listen to BBC Radio Jersey’s Tori Orchard interview with Glyn Young on the morning of the first ‘release’ (it’s also No 7 in the series of Tori’s interviews here).

Day 2 (29th August)

The ‘release’ process was repeated today when four birds ventured outside including ‘senior pair’ MV and PG. One bird, RD, failed to grasp the idea of the entrances and failed to find its way back inside and spent all night on the aviary roof before going back inside early on Friday morning.

Day 3 (30th August) – the day we discovered that choughs have minds of their own!

The senior pair (well, they are two years old) ventured rather further afield today and decided to explore nearby Ronez Quarry.  There was a heart-in-mouth moment when we watched a peregrine attack the pair but they recognised the threat and, in mid-air, on the longest flight of their lives fought it off – during the attack the falcon grabbed one of the chough pair by the legs but let go pretty quickly. One chough went to ground to avoid the persistent falcon but the pair were quickly re-united and seemed unfazed. That’s the first peregrine encounter out the way, let’s hope that any more have the same outcome.

Choughs return to Jersey. 1st September 2013. Photo by Colin StevensonWhile we can observe the choughs directly, allowing us to follow their activities and check on their wellbeing, the radio transmitters allow us to track the choughs at all times. On Friday the pair moved around confidently, foraged on the ground, displayed, flew out over the sea, perched on a woodpile and generally behaved like ‘wild’ choughs. We quickly learned that the choughs and the local carrion crows just ignore each other now that they can really meet.

Choughs on Jersey's coast again. Photo by Colin StevensonThe radio tracking team went into action and have, over the weekend, recorded the pair’s locations following a research protocol devised in advance. Having said that, the pair have at times been very visible and have appeared over Sorel Point and around the car park. Often they call loudly.

On Friday night the now christened Ronez 2 slept inside one of the quarry’s conveyor belts! They were up early Saturday morning and have continued to put on a good show. Never once have they gone near the aviary even though we know they’ve been able to see it when flying up high. The pair have once more encountered falcons and were seen to actively mob them.

Chough near Sorel Point. Photo by Liz CorryThe free-flying pair seems quite happy in and around the quarry and slept again in or near the conveyor. Wild choughs regularly live in quarries, including in North Wales, the ancestral home of our birds (see video of choughs in a quarry here). There is water in Ronez Quarry, secure roost sites and, hopefully, lots of foraging opportunities and respect from the quarry owners and personnel. The pair has been seen regularly on the grass at Sorel Point. Even with the Ronez 2 out and about, we will continue the slower soft-release of the other five birds but are wary that they have temporarily lost the presence of their senior members. Well, lost them unless they go and re-join them in the quarry!

Red-billed choughs near Sorel Point. September 2013. Photo by Liz CorryNow that there are birds out on the coast, please don’t hesitate to send in your sightings. Check here for details.

We are very grateful to the team-members who have assisted us in observing the release. Alison and Ray Hales from Paradise Park (Operation Chough) have been watching the birds with us all weekend. Mike Stentiford, the project’s staunchest supporter from when it was first imagined was there for the first opening. We must also give sincere thanks to Ronez Quarry who may get to see a lot of the choughs and of us!