Crabbé Activity Centreis a newly renovated outdoor centre belonging to Jersey’s Youth Service and ideally located on the Island’s north coast. The centre has basic accommodation for those who are visiting, giving us a friendly holiday camp feel, ideally suited to this year’s theme, with all conveniences situated on site including a wood-fired pizza oven. For those who would rather not sleep in a bunk-bed or tent, there will be hotel rooms available nearby.
This year’s theme is ‘Environmental Partnership’ – inspired by groups/organisations working towards a common goal. Current or future.
Aim and objectives
The general aim of the IIEM is to enable Government bodies, NGO’s, environmental managers and individuals to discuss the status of the islands’ environments.
The 2018 IIEM has three objectives for delegates to:-
– Present a range of environmental topics relevant to their organisation and island, demonstrating collaboration and partnerships working, and the pros and cons and best practice therein.
– Discuss current or future projects which could effectively be undertaken throughout the Channel Islands and other regions, such as the Isle of Man and UK.
– Discuss the potential for a Channel Island Environmental Charter.
The IIEM is aimed at ecological, conservation, environmental management bodies (government/NGO) and individuals from the Channel Islands and other regions, such as the Isle of Man and UK.
IIEM talk/poster presentation requirements
Delegates from the Channel Islands and beyond are encouraged to present on research related to the IIEM objectives on either terrestrial, ornithological or marine topics, either via talk or poster formats. Please contact Jon Parkes (JonParkes@nationaltrust.je) or Nina Cornish (N.Cornish@gov.je) to discuss and submit your presentation ideas.
Talks will normally last for 15 minutes, with 5 minutes for questions. Presenters are requested to submit a title and abstract (maximum of 300 words) to Jon Parkes by Friday 13th July.
Poster presentations will be displayed. Posters should be formatted to A1 size, either landscape/portrait. Presenters are requested to submit a title and abstract (maximum of 100 words) to Jon Parkes by Friday 13th July. Boards and attachment material will be provided.
There is a Birds On The Edge guided walk on Thursday (20th September) at 13.30 to nearby Mourier Valley to talk about sheep grazing, choughs, habitat management and bird crops.
The Friday (21st) afternoon session will consist of three field trips of which delegates will be asked to choose an option and indicate their choice on the registration form. The options will be:
Grève de Lecq to Plémont by Kayak: Sea Bird Conservation – Identified areas for protection and monitoring. Led by Piers Sangan and Kazz from Wild Adventures. Note: numbers are restricted for this field trip and places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis
The Wetland Centre Tour: A chance to visit the National Trust for Jersey’s bird observatory and interpretation centre. Led by the Trust Rangers.
Plémont Restoration Site – The story so far: See the former holiday camp site and the work the Trust and its partners have done to return the site to nature. Led by The Trust’s Land Manager and Conservation Officer.
You can use the registration formhere and email the completed form to Jon Parkes at JonParkes@nationaltrust.je by Friday 29th June.
Spoiler alert! Ronez Quarry found the first hatched egg shell of the year on 23rd May. However, there are so many more things to report about from May that we will leave that golden nugget of information for later.
Spreading their wings
Reports continue to come in from both the south-west and north-west corners of the island. The pair roosting in St Ouen’s Bay repeatedly foraged around Corbière Lighthouse, the desalination plant, and the sand dunes. And they are just the places we know about. I suspect they have taken a cheeky gander at the golf courses that lie to the north and south of their roost.
Choughs foraging by the old radio tower at Corbiere. Photo by Liz Corry.
Mary and Bo searching for found near the lighthouse. Photo by Liz Corry.
Looking at the hard granite around Corbière you would think it slim pickings on the menu for the chough pair. However, if you watch closely they are quite adept at finding tasty morsels. Take a look at this video for example. Not entirely sure what it is they have found, but obviously in high demand.
There is plenty of food on offer closer to the release site. Thanks to a local resident sending in a photo, we found a group of choughs hanging out at a ‘secret’ spot behind Sorel Farm. A horse field currently vacant except for rabbits, pheasant, swooping house martins, and aforementioned choughs. Short pasture, dung, and very little disturbance. Idyllic. For choughs at least.
This is a video of a few in a different horse field by the quarry.
The pair at Plémont are still going strong. They abandoned their nest in a sea cave and relocated to a crevice outside. We have not seen them at Sorel for a very long time. They appear to be finding plenty of food where they are. As the swifts start their summer residency in the same area we could be in for some interesting interactions. It is certainly an impressive sight to see the acrobatic flights of both species together.
On 22nd May four choughs from Jersey Zoo were caught up and transported to Paradise Park as part of our animal collection exchange. The birds travelled by boat in the Zoo van driven by our Head of Operations and a senior mammal keeper.
None of the choughs hold a valid license.
Gwinny, one of the four, has been with us at the Zoo since the very beginning. However, she failed to find a partner who shared her chick rearing aspirations. Maybe she will find her Mr Right in Cornwall.
On the return trip the van was loaded up with four different choughs, two Namaqua doves and a Madagascar partridge (pear tree to follow). They travelled on the freight ferry which meant a 4am, repeat 4AM!!, arrival in Jersey – a fog covered Jersey to boot.
Two new arrivals to a fog bound Jersey at sunrise (not that you can tell). Photo by Liz Corry.
Two of the choughs headed to Sorel where they will spend a month in quarantine acclimatising to life on the coast. We moved Han Solo, Jersey Zoo’s male, to the aviary the day before they arrived.
All three looked to be in good condition. We discovered Han Solo had a new claw growing through suggesting damage at an earlier date. He clearly has not been in any discomfort so no need to treat him.
A new claw growing out after previous damage resulted in loss of the old claw. Photo by Liz Corry.
The three boys will be housed separately to the free-ranging choughs during quarantine with opportunity to socialise (between ‘bars’) at feed times. In fact the first meeting between the two groups happened within minutes of reaching Sorel. Lots of shouting and displaying from the outside group at first thought to be directed at the newbies. After ten minutes of observations it became apparent they were just after the food locked away inside!
If all goes to plan the two males from Paradise Park and Han Solo from the Zoo will be released at the start of July.
In case any of you were curious as to the names of Han’s new friends…Chewbacca and Skywalker of course.
Let the judging commence
Judges visited Jersey’s short-listed contenders for this year’s Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards on May 23rd.
Ronez Quarry nominated our chough project for the work we do in collaboration with them to monitor and protect the wild population.
The quarry has been home to the choughs since the first soft-release back in 2013. This season we had at least eight pairs trying to raise chicks in the quarry.
Winners will be announced on 27th June. There are several awards up grabs with a total prize fund of £3,750. One of the awards is a People’s Choice Award worth £500. Social media voting will begin in June – get clicking!
Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards judges at Ronez Quarry. 23rd May 2018. Photo by Liz Corry.
If we are fortunate enough to receive any money it would go towards providing an educational experience for school groups visiting the quarry. A chance to learn about natural resources, coastal conservation, and of course the choughs. Any remaining money would go towards covering the costs involved in ringing and DNA sexing chicks (approximately £18 per chick).
Wild nest updates
If all goes well then Han Solo and the boys will be joined by several wild-hatched fledglings in July. The day the judges visited the quarry was the same day we discovered the first chicks of 2018 had hatched.
Toby Caberet had found hatched egg shell near one of the known nest sites. Using a handheld endoscope camera we were able to confirm a record number of four chicks in a single nest.
Four recently hatched chough chicks in a nest at the quarry. Photo taken under licence by Toby Caberet.
This is amazing news as this particular pair are first time parents. The chicks are very young. They have a further six weeks before leaving the nest and, as we learnt last year, that still doesn’t guarantee they will make it to Sorel. As long as the parents can find enough insects they stand a good chance.
All the more reason to rejoice in the next bit of news.
(St) Mary had a little lamb, and St John and St Peter…
This month the Manx loaghtan lambs were moved from the farm in St Catherine’s to the grazing site at Sorel. They are now old enough to roam the cliff tops. Still very vulnerable. Bleating can be heard far and wide from ‘lost’ lambs whose mothers are two feet away hidden in the gorse. Please remember to close gates and keep dogs under control. Any mountain bikers, be alert! It might not be a brown rock on the path that you are about to ride over.
Ewes and their lambs are now out roaming free at Sorel. Photo by Liz Corry.
A new grazing site in St Peter’s Valley has become home to another flock of Manx loaghtan sheep brought in to graze the meadows and hopefully improve biodiversity in the area. You can see them if you visit Quetivel Mill, a National Trust property open every Monday and Tuesday (10am-4pm).
Lambs are now out and about at Sorel. Photo by Liz Corry.
And finally, we couldn’t sign off without including the following picture taken by Mick Dryden at Sorel Point. A rare spring migrant to the Island, a honey-buzzard, flying alongside one of our choughs. I bet that was a sight no one predicted they would see five years ago!
Honey-buzzard and chough at Sorel Point. Photo by Mick Dryden.
Choosing how you vote should not be a snap verdict based on a few minutes of television.
– Simon Cowell
Somewhat ironic, but a perfect opener. Voting is now open for the Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards 2018. The Peter Walpole People’s Choice Award recognises conservation efforts of individuals and groups working in Jersey.
The Insurance Corporation’s Managing Director Mandy Hunt says “whether it is a school who enter a large project or a young individual with a tiny project on their window sill, both are making a contribution to the protection of our valuable green spaces and our local flora and fauna. We award money to our successful entrants because we believe it is important to help with the funding as well as celebrate their diligence and hard work.”
We can’t make you vote for the chough project. Gianna on the other hand…
As previously reported, Ronez Quarry nominated the chough project to try and raise funding to monitor chicks in the nest. This includes a leg ringing kit and DNA sexing tests as you cannot visually distinguish males from females.
If awarded, the money would also provide an educational package for school groups visiting the quarry. This would include child-friendly binoculars, identification cards and other educational material. The quarry is home to several species of birds not just the choughs. Instead of just learning about Jersey’s natural resources they could also learn about it’s biodiversity, develop field skills in bird observation, and learn how they can contribute to the conservation of choughs.
Each project short-listed for the award has been filmed and shown via the Insurance Corporation’s Facebook page. Watch each short clip then vote for the project of your choice at the bottom of their page.
In all fairness, I should also mention that one of our very first chough volunteers is also in the running. Since leaving the project, Neil Singleton has gone on to set up Birding Tours – Jersey. Both visitors and residents delight in Neil’s talks and walks. A very committed and passionate naturalist.
You can vote more than once! All of the applicants are deserving of this award. Just watch and vote at the bottom of their page or here.
The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on 20th June 2018 and will receive £500 to go towards their project.
Choughs are now frequently foraging on the southwest tip of Jersey. Photo by Dave Warncken .
by Liz Corry
There is a hashtag floating around the social media stratosphere at the moment, #conservationoptimism, which pretty much sums up this month’s chough report.
When the reintroduced choughs started breeding in the wild in 2015 there were just two males and four females. Three years later we have twelve pairs all eager to contribute to the growing population. Furthermore, two of those pairs have decided to branch out and nest in other parts of the Island.
Nesting ambitions of Jersey’s choughs
A male displaying to his female to encourage ‘sexy time’. The female reciprocating with a suitably unimpressed look. Photo by Elin Cunningham.
We have been able to identify a record number of ten nest sites this year.
Specific details of nest localities will remain guarded in order to protect the pairs. I can, however, let you in on some of the ‘highlights’ we have witnessed in April.
All of last year’s sites in Ronez Quarry are being used again with slight tweaks here and there.
There is concern for Red and Dingle as they are using the nest located on hot piping again. Ronez Quarry are helping us look into ways of raising the nest off the pipes without destroying the integrity of the nest. We wouldn’t want their eggs to overheat like last year.
Red and Dingle’s nest guarantees chicks won’t fall out – providing the eggs survive the heat from pipe work underneath. Photo by Liz Corry.
Dusty has strengthened his bond with Chickay after Egg died and continues to use the upper quarry away from the hubbub of the other nest sites. They have built a very nice nest which should be easy for us to monitor.
Ronez Quarry with Sark in the background. Photo by Liz Corry.
The first nest located away from Sorel was discovered by one of our zoo keepers on their day off. Anyone visiting Plémont in April will more than likely have heard if not seen a chough or two. In the months leading up to the breeding season we had assumed it was the Les Landes pair. And more often than not it had been. However, on reading the leg rings of the twig-carrying choughs it was clear we had a different pair.
Plémont Headland. Sorel Point lighthouse just about visible in the background. Photo by Liz Corry.
Finding the nest was a little trickier and not for the faint hearted. It is within the Plémont seabird protection zone which imposes public access restrictions from March to July. Plémont’s cliffs, notorious amongst Jersey’s rock climbers, are described as being ‘Weetabix’ like in structure and to be avoided at all costs. All in all there should be little human disturbance at this site adding to our growing optimism.
Not only is this the first nest discovered away from the release site, it is the first to belong to one of our foster-reared females – Xaviour! She has partnered with a male of her own age, Earl, and as such we are not expecting too much from them. At two-years old they are first timers with no knowledge of exactly what is involved in parenthood.
Regardless, this is a small victory for the project; foster-reared birds can pair up, they can build nests, and not just any nest, a truly wild nest. Fingers (and primaries) crossed for the next few weeks.
A male chough displaying his ‘excitement’. Photo by Liz Corry.
The record-breaking didn’t stop there. The choughs added a third parish to their tick list of breeding sites. Mary and a wild-hatched male from 2016 were found to have moved roost site 7km to the parish of St Peter. They have been a fairly permanent feature of Simon Sand & Gravel Ltd since last year. Jason Simon, Managing Director, reports seeing three choughs around, but of late one had been ‘pushed out’ by the pair.
Simon Sand & Gravel Ltd located in St Ouen’s Bay is home to sand martins and now choughs too. Photo by Liz Corry.
Two choughs have taken up residence at Simon Sand & Gravel Ltd in St Ouen’s Bay. Photo by Elin Cunningham.
Twigs are visible in the location where the pair roost. It could be a red herring as the site is also used by pigeons. From observations, Mary appear’s quite faithful to that particular spot.
The pair continue making the return trip to Sorel for the supplemental feed. You would assume from this that they are not finding what they need in the wild travelling at least 14km a day for the guarantee of food.
Not so. Thanks to several public sightings, and wonderful photographs, we know that this pair are frequenting Corbière, the southwest tip of the Island.
Wild-hatched chough hanging out at Corbière 21st April 2018. Photo by Dave Warncken.
Mary and a wild-hatched chough have become permanent residents of the southwest corner of Jersey. Photo by Dave Warncken.
Funding for nest monitoring awarded by the Ecology Trust Fund.
This is a Jersey-based fund established in March 1991 by the States of Jersey with a sum of money received in an insurance settlement from the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker disaster of 1978. Annual interest accrued is used to finance multiple projects each year within the environmental sector.
The money will be used to purchase equipment to help the team monitor chough nests around Jersey. Increasingly important as our birds ‘leave the nest’ and set up home around the Island.
Island Insurance Corporation awards
Staying on a funding and monitoring theme, we are very honoured to hear that Ronez Quarry have nominated the chough project for the Islands Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards. The choughs have frequented the quarry since the trial release in 2013 which is now permanent residence for several pairs.
There are prizes to the value of £1000 and £500 available. If awarded, we will be able to cover the costs of monitoring, ringing, and sexing the wild-hatched chicks. DNA sexing tests, for example, cost £14 per bird.
With 10 potential clutches this year the costs could soon spiral.
Judges will visit the short-listed projects in May after which voting will open for the People’s Choice Award. We will circulate details as soon as voting opens.
This chough had lost both plastic leg rings. The unique metal ring is impossible to read at a distance. Photo by Liz Corry.
As previously reported, several of the choughs have been losing their plastic rings. Or in the case of Zennor switching them around. As if the team needed more of a challenge to monitor breeding pairs!
On 26th April a group of choughs were caught up at the supplemental feed. Nine of the 25 birds arriving for food were caught up, weighed, and given new replacement rings. White was the only exception in that we had run out of white rings and given grey instead. Off-White if you like.
They all looked to be in good health. None of the females sported brood patches to suggest they had started incubating. I suspect that will have happened towards the end of the month or early May.
We still have two birds requiring replacement rings. They happen to be two of the four now living away from Sorel. Unlikely we wil get them in the aviary anytime soon.
Change is afoot with the Zoo choughs. We are exchanging chough pairs with Paradise Park, Cornwall, as part of our wider departmental collection plan. Paradise Park have kindly agreed to take Lucifer back after loaning him to us in 2012. Hopefully they can address his egg-smashing behaviour.
Jersey Zoo will continue to house two breeding pairs; Tristan and Issy and a new established pair. The move has been delayed until May which will disrupt the breeding season. With a quarantine period of thirty days it is unlikely the new pair will breed at Jersey this year.
Tristan and Issy remain in the Zoo’s on-show aviary and have already started nest building. Keepers found a discarded egg and the nest-liner on the floor of the aviary towards the end of April. Something obviously unsettled them, but they have started gathering wool again to repair their nest.
Tristan and Issy collect wool to line their nest in the Zoo. Photo by Liz Corry.
Foster rearing might not be on the cards this year
Gianna is making good progress since her cataract operations. It was clear that she had regained sight post-op, but she was not her normal self. At lot was due to a knock in confidence. Living in the dark for several months and then placed in a different enclosure must be disorientating. She also behaved in a way that suggested her depth perception was a little off. Over time she has improved although it could take a couple more months to be fully adjusted.
Gianna enjoying her morning preen. Photo by Liz Corry.
She is now in the off-show foster aviary allowing her to go through the motions of nest-building and such. A great deal of enthusiasm has been expressed although she still doesn’t have a complete nest. By now she would have finished and be eager to start laying.
Tristan and Issy did not need any assistance last year with raising their chick. As the only active breeding pair this year it is unlikely we will need Gianna’s help. Only time will tell.