Postponement of planned release of choughs to Kent.
Image shows Dr Nick Masters carrying out health checks on the young choughs before their planned - and then postponed - release in 2022. Credit: Richard
We were delighted to provide the vital Disease Risk Assessment which will inform all aspects of the reintroduction of choughs to Kent, where they haven't been seen in the wild for over 200 years.
Thank you very much to the team at The Wildwood Trust in Kent for this update:
Chough Project Update
In 2022, six choughs from Paradise Park in Cornwall joined the breeding programme at WildwoodTrust, increasing the number of breeding pairs from one to four. The Wildwood team supported the pairs and creche-reared chicks for release.
Towards the end of July 2022, these young birds moved to an aviary in a top secret location. A few days later, they were joined by parent-reared chicks from Paradise Park to form the first release group. The flock underwent pre-release health screening administered by the International Zoo Veterinary Group to ensure they were fit for release.
In autumn 2022, we began 'recall training' which involved the choughs leaving the aviary for short periods of time and being called back for food. This allowed the birds time to develop confidence and learn about their environment. Recall training will also enable our team to monitor the choughs' health after they are released.
During recall training, the birds explored along the east Kent coast and hinterland, foraging in stubble fields as you would expect wild choughs to do at this time of year, mixing with other corvids and exploring potential roost and nest sites.
In October, due to inclement weather and strong winds, the team made the decision to postpone the chough release until summer 2023. This decision was disappointing but the welfare of these charismatic birds is our top priority and we want to ensure that this project is a success.
The team learned a lot from this first set of recalltraining sessions and is very encouraged by the birds' ability to find forageand shelter in the wild. This will be important for planning future releasesand ensuring the long-term success of this project.