Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Totally Choughed

Over the past month or so Adrienne Stratford and I, with help from numerous others, have been out and about all around the coasts, mountains, quarries and cliffs of Mid and North Wales colour-ringing nestling Choughs at well over 50% of all known nest sites. I also colour-ringed all 16 young reared in the five known Cornish nests. With just one site on Anglesey left to go back to I thought it was worth giving a very brief blog update.

Chough's nest is bottom right - you can just see the orange hard-hat!

Now you see me, now you don't.  In a mountainous sea, accessing one low site was a bit more exciting (and much wetter) than usual. thankfully the chicks were all nice and dry in the back of the small cave. The photos don't really do it justice!!

2013 will stand out as an exceptionally late year, with nests being started about three weeks later than normal on average. Success rates and productivity have been fairly good though and something over 200 nestling Choughs have been individually colour-ringed as part of the Cross & Stratford Welsh Chough Project. This projects has been running since 1991 and has now individually colour-marked over 4,000 Choughs in order to examine natal dispersal, survival rates and seasonal movements amongst other things. The land-mark of 100 Choughs colour-ringed in Cornwall was also reached, which is absolutely amazing considering they virtually all originate ultimately from the one pioneering pair.

Well over 50% of all breeding adult Choughs in Mid and North Wales are now individually recognisable and great efforts have been made (primarily by Adrienne) to confirm the identity of marked birds at all nest sites not just those that are accessible for ringing. Over 150 breeding adults have been positively id'd at nest sites so far this year including three 18-year old individuals.

Adrienne confirming the id of the current "Mr "and "Mrs" of a site on Anglesey

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