Fledged chough chicks joined the flock at the supplemental feed. Photo by Liz Corry.
Summary of the 2020 breeding season
We have ringed a total of twelve chicks this year from seven different broods. Three chicks have unknown parentage although I can narrow it down to three possible options. We also know that five chicks died bouldering or shortly post-fledge which brings the 2020 total to seventeen chicks. No doubt we would have recorded more if COVID-19 restrictions had not prevented us for checking in nests. In a way it doesn’t matter. The twelve that fledged and continue to fly around Jersey are the important thing.
Last month’s report sounded like we had a handle on which pairs had bred and which chicks had made it to the aviary for supplemental feed. We didn’t. Not entirely. None of the chicks had been ringed in the nest this year thanks to the pandemic situation. On some days there were numerous unringed, identical birds in the flock.
On 23rd June, Glyn opportunistically caught up two of the unringed chicks to pop on a plastic leg ring. Six days later I caught up four chicks with a licensed ringer including one Glyn had previously caught. We fitted them with the full complement of rings and took DNA for sexing.
Choughs very quickly wise-up to any catch-up plans. Repeated back to back catch-up attempts result in the birds avoiding the aviary. Which meant it took all of July (and the first week in August) to finish processing all of the unringed chicks.
As the month went on, we started to get a clearer picture on parentage. However, the longer you wait to ring a chick the more independent it becomes, i.e. feeds for itself. You need to see an adult physically feeding a youngster to know it is the parent. Of course, there is another risk with waiting. An unringed chick seen at the start of the month might get predated, fatally injured etc. and won’t be around by the end of the month. We certainly experienced that with Dusty and Chickay’s brood.
The twelve that survived bring the total wild population back up to 44 after the dip in 2019. We look forward to monitoring their progress.
One of the more memorable ringing events occurred on 16th July. I had completely different plans that day taking a film crew to Sorel along with a colleague, Dan, to film a piece for our Love your zoo LIVE event. As we arrived, I spotted an unringed chough in the aviary. Not only that, but it was also a new arrival. You can tell by their naivety when they are inside the aviary. Instead of navigating the open hatches and flying straight out they fumble around in blind panic if spooked. Trapping it and catching it up was super easy. There were no licensed ringers available at short notice to fit the metal ring, so we did the rest.
Dan was very excited especially when he found out he was going to be my glamourous assistance. I let him pick the ring colour with a caution of anything but pale blue or grey (hard to distinguish in the wild). He went with pale blue. Despite that we have named the chick Danny. The sexing result came back as a male just to add to the significance.
We spent two and a half hours filming out at Sorel that day. As expected, a lot ended up on the cutting room floor. Here is the video for those who missed it.
Zoo chicks take flight
The three youngsters left their nest box at the start of July. The first was out on the first! They look really good and follow mum to the ground looking for food. Still insisting mum feeds them, but watching and learning all the time when Penny is foraging for worms, larvae etc. We are lucky that the Zoo aviary is home to a few ant nests. As long as we time it right, we can turn over a stone and have hundreds of eggs available to the choughs. They just have to make sure they get to them before the ants have carried them away.
On of Penny’s chicks contemplating the big leap. Photo by Liz Corry.
Sexing results came back on the 17th confirming we have three males. Two firsts for the Zoo; three chicks fledged, no females. These boys will head to the UK early next year to join either Paradise Park or Wildwood‘s breeding programme.
Chough chicks fledge in the Zoo. Photo by Liz Corry.
Chough travel plans continue despite Covid-19
Beaker and Beanie Baby continue to visit Grosnez and Les Landes whilst roosting at Plémont. They even made an appearance at the Sorel feed on 28th July. Maybe supplies were running low over in the west?
Searching for choughs at Les Landes and Grosnez. Photo by Liz Corry.
Cliffs adjacent to Les Landes racecourse offer plenty of roosting and nesting opportunities. Photo by Liz Corry.
Someone is certainly enjoying the east of the Island. More reports from Les Platons, Bouley Bay, Trinity, and flying over St Martin’s cricket pitch. We have Dave Buxton to thank for the latter. Licensed ringer and avid cricketer.
The pitch certainly looks inviting to a chough with all that short grass. The question is what lies beneath? Juicy grubs?
Choughs have been spotted flying over Farmers Cricket Club, St Martin. Photo by Farmers CC.
This year’s chicks have started to fledge and make their way over to Sorel. First out, and no surprise, were Dusty andChickay’s chicks on the 9th. The only surprise was the number. Four! This is our largest brood recorded having made it from nest to supplemental feed.
Kevin and Wally with one of their chicks. Photo by Liz Corry.
Ronez staff reported seeing a chick bouldering next to Lee and Caûvette’s nest and at least one still in the nest. Sadly, on the 15th they recovered a body which we assume was one of these two chicks. We have not seen Lee or Caûvettefeed chicks out at Sorel and can only assume the brood failed. This is unusual for the pair. The post mortem on the recovered body was inconclusive.
Lee and Caûvette’s chicks perished; at least they have each other. Photo by Liz Corry.
Bo and Flieurwere caring for two chicks at the supplemental feeds. This is Bo’s first-time parenting. He seems up for the challenge. I wonder if he realises he is set for at least a month of earache post-nest?
One of Chickay’s four chicks demanding to be fed. Photo by Liz Corry.
Other first timers are Percy and Icho. Last year their first clutch failed. This year they have three youngsters. Two arrived at the aviary with them on the 23rd then a third was noticed on the 26th.
Our regular breeding pairs had varying success. I’ve already mentioned Dusty. His father, Green, and partner Pyrrhotended to a nest, yet nothing made it across to Sorel.
Red,one of the original release birds, and Dingle raised two chicks that we know of. Ronez staff reported hearing chick noises coming from the nest box. Then on the 25th they had to intervene when one chick, having left the box, found himself with his firstlife choice: a) face imminent death from construction vehicles b) face imminent death from tons of molten ash pouring on him or c) let the kind hi-viz human pick him up and move him to a safer area. He (we) went for Option C.
Kevin and Wally fledged two chicks. Straight forward. No drama there.Trevor and Noirmont also fledged two chicks. I saw them bouldering around their nest site mid-June. What happened next is a bit of a mystery. Throughout June, no one observedTrevor or Noirmont feeding chicks at the aviary. They failed then right? Wrong! Although I can’t tell you until July’s report. The power of hindsight. Insert dramatic pause here.
A chick arriving at the supplemental feed. Photo by Liz Corry.
Awkward: the aviary takes a bit of getting used to for new arrivals. Photo by Liz Corry
Embarrassing but we got there. Photo by Liz Corry.
June revealed two new pairings. That of Bee and Mac and Honeydew and Minty. All relatively young (≤3 years old) and no known nests. However, back in March Minty was seen carrying nesting material. At the time we reported him having a ‘blossoming’ relationship with a different female. Does this mean he was building a nest with her and it failed? He switched females and started building a nest with Honeydew way back in March? Either way we have no current evidence of Honeydew and Minty caring for a nest at Sorel.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, the Plémont update is much the same. No confirmed sign of Xaviour. Beanie Baby and Beaker are roosting at Plémont. No sign of chicks although monitoring of this site has been minimal. I think I have discovered their nest. It is too late in the year for them to be using it for definitive proof and I can only reach it at low tide. For monitoring purposes, due to Jersey’s amazing tidal range, it needs to be a low, low tide if that makes sense.
High tide mark black) on the cliffs give you an idea where choughs can and cannot nest. Photo by Liz Corry.
The Corbière mystery has been solved. Early June I managed to get a partial ID on one of the pair.Annoyingly this was on a day I had not planned to go looking and had no scope or long lens camera in the car.I did manage to clock a green ring on the left leg. This narrowed it down to one of six options.
La Rosiere, Corbière, provides foraging and potential nesting habitat for choughs. Photo by Liz Corry
I returned on the 23rd in unforgiving heat this time armed with equipment. Turns out I didn’t need it as they were right there in front of me. Theheat must have made them complacent splitting their time between foraging on open ground for a spell and sheltering in the old quarry ruins.
Honeydew and Minty sheltering in the ruins from the intense heat. Photo by Liz Corry.
Quarry ruins used by the choughs as shelter. Photo by Liz Corry.
With an air of smug triumph, I said hello to Minty and Honeydew, cracked a culturally inappropriate joke about them being at the Jehovah Witness hall, then decided I had been in the sun for too long.
The Corbière pair arriving at the Kingdom Hall foraging site. Photo by Liz Corry.
Actually, what I did next was run around Gorselands and la Moye as I thought I heard a second pair calling not far away. When I returned toMinty and Honeydewone of them called out…and it echoed! I had just spent half an hour chasing an echo.I packed up and went off for an ice cream.
The desalination plant next to the Kingdom Hall may explain the echoing bird calls. Photo by Liz Corry.
From my collective observations and the few public records, it does look like this pair could be roosting in the south west corner of Jersey. They like to use the abandoned Highlands Hotel during the day. It acts as a safe rest stop overlooking the land. They head to the roof then disappear out of sight for several minutes before heading off again to forage. The structure looks to have potential for a roost. The building hasapparently beenempty for 12-18 months. I would like to get in contact with the owner to see if we can investigate the possibility of roost or nest.If any readers can help with this please do get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 860 059.
Highlands Hotel is a prominent feature of the cliff tops in Jersey’s southwest. Photo by Liz Corry.
After the feed one Sunday, Icho was sat in the dead hawthorn tree by the aviary looking out of sorts. Percy was off somewhere else. She was very quiet and her feathers were out of place. There looked to be bald patches under her eyes and top of head. It was very easy for me to shut her in the aviary (another cause for concern).
Icho shut in the aviary to be caught up for a health check. Photo by Liz Corry.
Thankfully it was just a case of damp feathers mixing with rock dust. She must have bathed before arriving at the aviary. The right ratio of dust to water acting like ‘hair gel’ on the feathers.
Her subdued nature? Probably the same any mother has who had spent the past seven weeks feeding three hungry mouths?
A short yet sweet update. Penny continued to look after her three surviving chicks in the Zoo. We didn’t have to intervene just make sure she continued to get a regular supply of food. We ringed the chicks on the 16th and took DNA samples to send off for sexing. All looked fit and well.
Three very healthy chicks visible on the Zoo nest-cam. Photo by Liz Corry.
The Malagasy A-Team
I have been making the most of June’s daylight hours to keep on top of maintenance jobs. Well trying to at least. There is the ever-growing grass and surrounding bracken to keep on top off. The rats are still making a meal of the netting in quite an extraordinary way. A substantial sized rectangle had been gnawed out of one piece. I’m not sure which I was more alarmed at – the size or the shape.
For one memorable day in June, I had help from a very specialvolunteer group. Five staff members from Durrell’s Madagascar team have been over here in Jersey since February. They were attending the three-month DESMAN course at our Academyand became ‘stranded on the rock’ thanks to the pandemic.
Mamy and Henri cut the grass and created enrichment areas inside the aviary. Photo by Liz Corry.
Students from the other countries had managed to make it home. Getting back to Madagascar was a little trickier. To alleviate lockdown boredom, they offered their assistance around the Zoo where feasible and out at Sorel. They powered through the jobs which helped me immensely.
Mirana meeting the Manx loaghtans. Photo by Liz Corry.
One task included re-vamping the signage at the aviary. Photo by Liz Corry.
They managed to get flights home a few days later. They were ecstatic. I wasn’t. I had just lost my best team! I jest. We love our colleagues and lament over not spending more time face to face…unless it is in times of a pandemic.
Mamy showed off his carpentry skills. Photo by Liz Corry.
From left to right: Mirana, Lova, Helen hiding) and Ny set to work removing the bracken before fixing holes in the netting. Photo by Liz Corry.
As well as an unexpected volunteer team, I was in for another treat at Sorel this month.One evening, as I drove away from the aviary, I noticed a bird of prey sat on the field gate. Not unusual. Kestrel, buzzard, harrier, barn owl all hangout up there. This beauty caught my eye. It looked falcon-esque. Yet as I drove closer, eventually stopping mere metresaway, managing to get my camera out of the boot, AND take a photo, I knew this wasn’t your average falcon. Of course the jesses were an early give away.
Cyrus taking in the scenery on an excursion from St Johns Manor Falconry. Photo by Liz Corry.
With no falconer insight,I fired off a few social media messages to see who was missing their bird. Within minutes St John’s Manor contacted me to say it was probably their beloved Cyrus. Turns out she had been missing for a day and her GPS tag had failed. I know what it feels like when our choughs go missing so I stayed nearby to keep an eye on her until they arrived. I’d love to tell you there was a happy ending. I don’t know if there was. As soon as the falconer arrived, she flew off. Not far and it was approaching roost time so I would like to think she opted for rabbit in the falconer’s hand rather than the ones running around Sorel.
A chough family out and about at Grosnez. Photo by Mick Dryden.
By Liz Corry
The choughlets finally made it across to Sorel this month to join the flock at the supplemental feed. Some are flying further afield following their parents to the west coast. They now face the same challenges life throws at all choughs; finding food, avoiding predators, and putting up with those pesky folk who keep wanting to put leg rings on them.
Attendance records at Sorel on the rise.
The choughs are finding plenty to eat around Mourier Valley. Photo by Liz Corry.
With nest sites vacated for another year, the adults are spending more time together at Sorel. The addition of hungry mouths to feed has seen attendance records at the supplemental feeds increase. It has allowed us to get a better understanding of total population size. More on that later.
This year sixteen choughs fledged from various nest sites at Sorel and Plémont. Sadly, as reported last month, three died within a week of fledging all injury related. That still leaves thirteen hungry mouths to feed.
It has been quieter this year at Sorel compared to 2018. The broods fledged at different times. Families were arriving at Sorel days, sometimes weeks, apart giving the youngsters time to adjust. Last year they all fledged within a relatively close time frame. I guess it was noisy because the chicks had to compete with each other for attention.
The surprising news came from Skywalker and Pyrrho who casually rocked up to the supplemental feed one afternoon with two chicks in tow. Quarry staff thought this nest had failed. As first time parents, we had also written off the clutch. Wrong! One of the few times you are happy to be proven wrong.
Earl of Plémont returns triumphant
Rather a grand title yet justified for the next snippet of news. Earl and Xaviour are returning to Sorel for supplemental food. And so is their chick! On 4th July I found 40 choughs waiting for me near the aviary. As I started going through the roll call, I stared down to find two familiar faces (well leg ring combos) staring back.
Earl and Xaviour (middle two) returned to Sorel this month along with their new chick. Photo by Liz Corry.
I had to work my way through the flock to finally discover which, if any, was their chick. It was positioned at the back of the group, silently getting on with life, foraging for food.
The Plémont chick getting down to business. Photo by Liz Corry.
We expected the family to make an appearance at some point; the hot dry summer has hardened off the soil making it impossible to extract insects. Their reliance on the supplemental feed naturally increases at this time. We have also learnt that the cows grazing at Les Landes, a chough favourite, have been removed due to the farmer having to make cut backs. These provided another source of food for the birds especially Earl and his family at neighbouring Plémont.
Work with me on this pun as I’m trying to make light of a tragedy. One of Jerseys licensed ringers, Ian Buxton, contacted me this month with regards to a specimen submitted to the Société Jersiaise. Somebody found the remains of a bird whilst out on the cliffs around Sorel Point. On seeing an address stamped on the metal leg ring they thoughtfully bagged the remains and took them to the museum.
This is how Ian became involved and then sent me the following image…
The remains of chough PP036 hatched this year at Ronez. Photo by Liz Corry.
The legs belong(ed) to one of this year’s chicks – PP036 also known as ‘White over Cerise’.
A peregrine falcon hanging out at Sorel Point. Photo by Liz Corry.
We do like to wind up our vets at Durrell, but I wasn’t about to submit this for a post-mortem. It is quite likely that the youngster fell foul to the resident peregrine falcon.
PP036 had been absent from the feeds since 13th July and discovered on the 17th. We have three more youngsters on our watchlist who haven’t been seen in awhile. They could simply be with their parents over at Les Landes or Crabbé. Although the recovered legs makes me suspicious.
I have contacted the Jersey Climbing Club to ask members to keep an eye out whilst dangling from granite. They are more likely to come across remains than we are.
Big catch up
To ensure each chough has a unique ring combination we had to plan several catches this month. As well as some unplanned, carpe diem moments. Four broods remained unringed and several adults had lost one or more plastic ring.
Making use of the overgrown bracken to operate the hatches. Photo by Liz Corry.
The parents of the unringed chicks were understandably protective. They were on the alert whenever we called the group over for food in the aviary. Often they would land on top of the netting and just stare at us until we gave in and left. If they did go inside, they would immediately fly out as soon as one of us merely thought about closing the hatches!
The added complication was trying to time it when enough staff were available to help out. We only needed certain individuals from a group of potentially 48 birds. Trying to hand net and process that many in a confined space is stressful to the birds. You want to be able to minimise time spent inside.
On the odd occasion the youngsters were helpful. I would arrive to find one or two chicks already inside. In their naivety and panic, they would forget how to fly out of the hatches giving me enough time to reach the handles and close them.
The big catch-up came on 19th July when I managed to lock in 34 choughs. Three escaped the hatches in an Indiana Jones style – one of which was an unringed chick. We’ll gloss over that. With the help of a volunteer and a licensed ringer, I hand-netted 28 of the birds, we weighed them, and fitted or replaced leg rings as necessary. All birds were released back into the wild once we had processed them.
Whilst in the hand, we discovered one of this year’s youngsters had a clump of matted feathers around the neck. It was dried blood. There was no obvious wound, no fresh bleeding, but clearly something had happened since it’s first catch up three weeks ago. One to keep an eye on.
The big catch up and recent numbers at the feeds are evidence to suggest we have lost eleven choughs since January of this year. This is not including the deceased fledged chicks.
We know the reason for one bird was aspergillosis because we had a body to post-mortem. Around two thirds of the lost birds were in pairs. Their partners have re-paired with a younger male or female. Was that before or after the disappearance? Cue the EastEnders theme tune.
Captive or Wild-hatched?
* if wild-hatched this is year it fledged.
Bracken bashing for charity
Whilst the sheep do a grand job of grazing the National Trust land at Le Don Paton they have their limits. They don’t actually eat the bracken, certainly not in any quantities to make a difference. At least once a year the rangers take a tractor up to clear certain areas. Understandably, the slopes of Mourier Valley aren’t practical even for the most skilled of drivers.
A Manx loaghtan sheep grazing in Mourier Valley. Photo by Liz Corry.
The wonderful staff at HSBC rose to the challenge and volunteered their time to bash some bracken. Despite July’s scorching temperatures the team joined the National Trust’s rangers and did a great job and clearing the vegetation.
HSBC volunteers helping clear the bracken in Mourier Valley. Photo by National Trust for Jersey.
The sheep can now take over and make sure it stays low. This is how it would have been centuries ago when farmers kept livestock around the coast. Although I assume with less corporate branding. HSBC also helped the rangers at woodland on Mont Fallu and clearing the alien invasive succulent, purple dew plant, from the salt marsh habitat of St Ouen’s Bay coastal strip.
Jersey’s free-living choughs have had another productive nesting season. There are seven pairs in the group and we discovered five nests. As reported last month, Dingle and Red’s clutch of four eggs failed to hatch.
That still left four active nests with chicks. The team was taken to the nest-sites on 9th July by Ronez operational assistant, Toby Cabaret. Dave Buxton, licensed ringer, joined the team in order to fit leg rings on the chicks.
We were initially greeted with bad news. We found two dead chicks on the floor under a nest, approximately two and three weeks old at time of death. Post mortem results were inconclusive due to decomposition of soft tissues. Fortunately there was still one chick alive in the nest.
Licenced bird ringer Dave Buxton with a chough chick. Photo by Liz Corry.
Fitting plastic leg rings and taking DNA samples for sexing. Photo by John Harding.
A second nest had also lost a chick leaving just one chick for the team to process.
The third nest was checked and also found to contain just one chick. In all of the above nests, the parentage was unknown; although we had our suspicions.
Each nest checked contained one chick. Photo by Liz Corry.
The fourth nest belonging to Green and Black was in one of the nest-boxes fitted this year. Despite the nest camera being blocked with wool and twigs we had strong suspicions there were chicks inside. Due to access issues it would be a case of waiting for fledglings to emerge to determine if this was the case.
On the 21st we received news from Toby that one of the ringed chicks had started to explore outside the nest. We estimated it would be a week before it made an appearance at Sorel.
Photo of the first chick out of the nest. Photo by Toby Cabaret.
We were right! On the 27th the dulcet tones of a begging chick could be heard over the cliff tops and upon its arrival at the aviary accompanied by its parents. Finally we knew who its parents were. Kevin and Bean were the only two choughs hurriedly feeding the chick. This was quite a moment for the team since young Bean is one of three hand-reared females at Sorel. There could only be one name for this chick; Beanie baby.
The first fledgling to arrive at the aviary begging for food from its parents. Photo by Tanith Hackney-Huck.
Our question over the fourth nest was answered two days before Beanie baby flew to Sorel. Paul Pestana’s voluntary observations paid off on the 25th when he spotted a commotion on the roof of one of the quarry buildings. Two chicks had jumped up through a hole in the roof and started begging frantically at Green and Black who had returned with food from Sorel. Within minutes of being fed they hopped back out of sight and the adults flew off to find more food.
This breeding season seems to be one of give and take. Therefore, our news of two unringed chicks was followed by news of a loss the next day. Concerned quarry staff phoned in the morning to report a chick on the ground in a building looking like it couldn’t fly. A somewhat common appearance in chough chicks that haven’t fully fledged. However, it soon became apparent it was more serious. Sadly the chick died before it reached the vets. A post-mortem showed a severe syngamus infection as likely cause. Black was showing symptoms of a syngamus infection. If she was ingesting infected insects it was highly likely she was also feeding them to the chicks. The survival of the second chick was now in doubt, but there was nothing we could do until it flew to Sorel.
Whilst staff have been busy observing nests, the choughs have been off gallivanting along the north coast. Nottingham Trent student Guille has been attempting to follow them as part of his MSc project. He wakes at dawn and tracks groups or individuals armed with a pair of binoculars and a trusted bicycle. He also put a plea out to the Jersey public via social media to report any sightings. They didn’t disappoint.
After an initial slow start, Guille has been able to observe choughs foraging at Crabbé, Plémont, Grosnez, and Les Landes. All places we knew they visited already, but thought they had ditched during the breeding season to stay close to nest sites. At least that is the impression you get when you go to the aviary to feed twice a day.
One warm day, a pleasing find was seeing a group of choughs bathing and drinking in the stream at Mourier Valley. Rather more interesting was the discovery of the breeding pairs travelling several kilometres away from their nest sites. White and Mauve with at least 16 others were photographed at Grève de Lecq at the start of the month. We had started to think this pair had failed to breed this year, so it wasn’t too surprising for them to be away from their nest site.
Choughs photographed at Greve de Lecq on June 12th by Nick de Carteret
We suspected the Les Landes pair, Lee and Caûvette, were responsible for one of the chicks in the quarry. Guille’s observations and public reports meant that the pair were spending considerable time and distance (~5km) away from their nest to forage. Grosnez, Plémont Headland, and Les Landes being their favourite spots. Kevin and Bean were also spending time away from their nest having been seen 2-3km away in the mornings and early afternoon.
Lee (on the left) and Caûvette photographed at Grosnez by Mick Dryden.
Catch up with Caûvette
We trapped Caûvette in the aviary at Sorel and caught her up to remove her back digit from her plastic leg ring. Unlike Bean she had not managed to free it unaided. There appeared to be no damage. The only thing was that claw had become overgrown and needed a trim. Once weighed she was released from the aviary to join the others. In the process of catching her up we also caught up Green and Q much to their displeasure. Not one to waste an opportunity we recorded body weights for those two prior to releasing. The two males and Caûvette were all good weights suggesting that they must be finding enough food whether wild or at the aviary.
An unappreciative Cauvette before her toe was removed from the plastic leg ring. Photo by Liz Corry.
Han Solo takes flight
Zoo chough chick Han Solo in the nest box…one imagines anyway.
Our zoo chick, Han Solo, took his first flight out of the nest box on 15th June and there wasn’t a Millennium Falcon in sight! Well maybe a kestrel hovering over the valley.*
He had been teetering at the edge for several days beforehand. Once out it took him a little while to get used to his new-found flying skills, preferring to hang out in one of two places. He doesn’t seem too perturbed by the public. We assume mum and dad have explained the situation to him.
Recently fledged chough chick and parents at Jersey Zoo. Photo by Liz Corry.
*apologies to anyone not a fan of Star Wars and to everyone for the bad pun.
RBC helps out Jersey Zoo’s own RBCs (red-billed choughs)
On 9th June a team from the Royal Bank of Canada volunteered their time at Jersey Zoo to help with the choughs.
Team RBC: The Royal Bank of Canada staff who volunteered their time for the Red-Billed Choughs. Photo by Gisele Anno.
They were set the task to weed the borders outside the display aviary and plant it up to look like chough habitat found on the north coast. Species such as foxglove, red campion, bladder campion, knapweed, lady’s bedstraw, birds foot trefoil and heather were added. Most of the plants were coming to the end of their flowering period, but they will grow back next year.
RBC volunteers weeding the borders outside the chough aviary at Jersey Zoo. Photo by Gisele Anno.
Gorse bushes translocated from the old green lizard enclosure into the aviary when the choughs first moved in, have now spread to the outside. Volunteers made sure these young growths received a bit of TLC to encourage them to grow.
RBC volunteers working hard on the native species border. Photo by Gisele Anno
At the end of a hard day’s work they were treated to a talk from Glyn about Birds On The Edge, the choughs, and the reason why conserving coastal farmland is important.
On top of volunteering their time, the RBC have donated money to help rodent proof the release aviary and repair netting damage. For which we and the choughs are extremely grateful.
LIVE Teaching through nature
The choughs participated once again with Alderney Wildlife Trust‘s LIVE Teaching Through Nature schools programme. Their blogging skills almost as good as their flying skills if I may say so myself. The online paid programme offers schools the opportunity to bring nature into their classrooms by utilising live streams of Alderney’s seabirds, videos and blogs from Durrell and the choughs in Jersey, and the occasional live chat with field staff.
This project links directly to the key stage 1 & 2 curriculum, and is an effective way of teaching science and literacy skills, and encouraging pupil creativity and confidence. Feedback from our two week takeover in June was yet again positive hopefully inspiring some young conservationists along the way.