Chough report: November 2021

November afternoons at Sorel. Photo by Liz Corry.

By Liz Corry

At the start of November, I was still wearing shorts to work. By the end, several layers, gloves, a woolly hat, and the obligatory waterproofs. The choughs also noticed the change in weather. The entire flock are now waiting for supplemental food each afternoon. Some birds even wing-begging for food. Clearly, wild supplies of invertebrates were not meeting energy demands for birds battling winds and trying to stay warm.

The sheep left. Not necessarily related to the weather, I think they have been moved to St Ouen. This might add to the choughs’ hunger if there are less dung invertebrates around Sorel in the sheeps’ absence.

Hungry choughs waiting for the supplemental food. Photo by Liz Corry.

Storm Arwen caused more minor damaged at the aviary. Of note, the keeper door had been blown wide open when the force of the wind bent the bolt out of place!

I was quite surprised we didn’t suffer more, especially considering last month’s gale damage. Luckily, I managed to fix the damaged panelling before Storm Arwen hit.

Lily leaves the flock

Lily, a three-year old female, appears to have either perished or left the Island. She was last seen on 5th November at Sorel. She has not been reported elsewhere.

Lily is an example of how post-release management has played an important role in the project’s success. Lily hatched in the wild in 2018. We had to catch her up in December that year when we spotted her digit caught in her ring. Durrell vets had to intervene as the toe needed amputating (click here to learn more). She was released back into the wild the same day and formed a partnership with another female looking out for each other over the years.

Lily and Vicq hanging out together this summer. Photo by Liz Corry.

New partnerships

Since Lily disappeared, her ‘partner’ Vicq has been seen preening Pinel. He is a wild hatched bird from 2020. If this new partnership continues over winter, it could mean a new breeding pair. 

Likewise, Danny and Portelet are also showing promising signs of being a new pair for 2022. Both pairings will need to find a nest site and establish a new breeding territory. No doubt keeping the project team on their toes next season.

Roost monitoring

We have been without a student placement all November which has restricted certain tasks, one being the biannual roost checks. I’ve not been able to check all the known roost sites due to sunset times clashing with the supplemental feed.

I have been able to monitor the aviary and, as suspected, several of the quarry birds are roosting at the aviary again. I suspect they will switch back to the quarry once sunset times start occurring after Ronez have clocked off for the day.

Leg rings

We finally managed to trap Monvie in the aviary to fit her metal ring. This is engraved with details of Jersey Museum in case the bird is recovered by a member of the public. Also, it comes in really useful when a plastic colour ring drops off and we can’t be sure on identity. Case in point, Archirondel, who we also managed to catch the same day and replace her white ring.

Monvie having a metal leg ring fitted by a licensed ringer. Photo by Liz Corry.

Bo and Minty evaded several catch-up attempts this month. We will keep trying although, at least for now, we can still distinguish them in the flock. Then on the 29th, Lee arrived missing one of his rings so he gets added to the ‘to do’ list for December. 

French news

Our friend Yann commented on last months’ report to say he has not seen Cappy since spring. Disappointing if she has perished although not a surprise. It would be nice to think she has moved south, along the coast towards Brittany under the radar of French birders. 

And finally

Camera trap footage at Sorel often throws up a few surprises. This month it was the camera itself with the surprise. I found an orb weaver (spider) and ladybird ‘hiding’ behind the camera. The spider’s full name is Nuctenea umbratica, commonly known as a walnut orb-weaver. Apparently also known as the toad spider although I’m not sure why – a tendency to hide behind things?

I logged the find with the Jersey Biodiversity Centre using the iRecord app. Both are common species but it is still important to record when you can.

Camera traps throw up all sorts of surprises at the aviary. Photo by Liz Corry.

 

 

One thought on “Chough report: November 2021

  1. I don’t think you need to worry TOO much about winter survival. It maybe was just a hard snap. My two birds on the Rame Peninsula during a very hard winter survived well, feeding in frozen conditions under big Tree mallow (Lavatera arborea/maritima) leaves on woodlice (1990, Bird Study 37: 199-209). They got through that period really well although, as you know, one later succumbed to Aspergillosis. The stress wouldn’t have helped.
    Good luck next year!

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