By Charlotte Dean
Our sincere apologies for the delays in circulating monthly reports. We hope to start catching up.
It’s that season again when the chough team make arrangements with Ronez Quarry to access the chough nests for the first nest checks and chick ringing. Unfortunately, the weather this year was not in our favour. As the quarry is an unsheltered area along the north coast, there is no easy or safe way to access high nests in winds above F4. Most of June had this level of wind so the team and quarry staff agreed it wasn’t worth the risk. However, we could at least access some of the nests on foot. The pairs we managed to access this way were those of Kevin & Wally, which had three very noisy chicks inside, and Bo & Flieur whose nest surprised us with four chicks! The chicks were ringed with our year colour for 2023 which was Pink and will be accompanied with another coloured ring for easy identification in the field. The chicks were also blood sexed, weighed and measured before being placed back into their respective nests. Without access to the other nests the team can at least acknowledge that there are currently seven chicks in two nests so far; but as there is plenty of activity in other well-known nests, we’re sure we’ll have more chicks.
The quarry also witnessed a few unsuccessful fledging events this year due to the adverse weather; practically a whole month of high winds. One chick was found dead beneath a nest site for pair Green & Pyrrho. We believe that it could have died from the impact after falling from the nest, it was not, however, of fledging age and, therefore, we assume it’s death may have been caused by some sibling rivalry for space in the nest. Later, fledglings emerging from Kevin & Wally’s nest were also found on the ground near their nest site. Both were initially going to be collected by quarry staff to be assessed for cause of death by the Durrell veterinary team. However, one chick had already been predated by then. We were thankful to know that at least one chick from Kevin & Wally had also been seen by quarry staff wing-begging at its parents from the staircase just outside their nest site, looking active and healthy. Since Kevin & Wally’s chick emerged from their nest, the quarry staff have contacted us about other chicks that have been seen around the quarry as well; we can safely say that the quarry is starting to get more noisy than usual!
The Plémont pair, Minty & Rey had been seen feeding chicks in their cave nest at a few days old at the end of May, which was very exciting news for our truly wild pair. Both Minty & Rey had both been seen at the Sorel Aviary every day since then. To the team, this seemed like a big issue. This could indicate that Minty & Rey were not finding enough food from foraging around their nesting area and, therefore, were coming to the aviary for food. When spending long periods of time at the aviary as a pair, they were leaving their newly hatched chicks in a nest unprotected. The chough team visited their nest the week after and were faced with silence. It was assumed that while they were still coming to the aviary for food, their chicks were predated in their absence. It has been a great shame to witness the silence from within their nest again this year. We are hopeful that they will find a new and successful place next breeding season.
First choughlet at the aviary
The wait is finally over, the team finally heard the calls of a hungry chick at the aviary. The first pair whose fledged chicks came to the aviary this year were, perhaps unsurprisingly, Kevin & Wally on 15th June. And it wasn’t long before the other pairs started to bring their chicks too. Green & Pyrrho and Percy & Icho both brought two chicks a few days later. Dusty & Chickay, Bo & Flieur and Lee & Caûvette brought chicks at the very end of the month. Dusty & Chickay and Bo & Flieur both brought two chicks and Lee & Caûvette brought the one. Trevor & Noirmont’s nest was looked at in our Ronez Quarry visit but their chicks were a lot younger than the other breeding pairs’ – we expect them to arrive early next month.