Thursday, 25 June 2015

Choughs at Castlemartin Range - something old, something new

Not all breeding choughs on Castlemartin Range have fledged young yet this summer, but those that have bred have fledged quite good brood sizes so far. In Range East, our oldest known chough, now into his 21st year, (having outlasted his colour-rings but still identifiable through a telescope by his BTO metal ring) wasn't one of the successful ones this year. He was born only a couple of km from where he now breeds. During 19 years of breeding activity, he has helped to raise a minimum of 48 young at three nest-sites. Although never proven, during one of his earlier breeding seasons, he was suspected of infanticide at an adjacent chough nest-site. What ever caused the failure, he went on to expand his territory to include this particular nest-site the following year. It has remained within his breeding territory ever since. Hopefully this will not be the last breeding season for this particular character.

Pair of choughs having a rest near Stennis Ford on 24th June - the old male (ring on hidden left leg) is on the right 

Further into Range West, numbers of younger non-breeding birds are starting to build up. The flock had reach c.19 in total by last Sunday. In this flock there is a possible new arrival - a colour-ringed bird from Ceredigion white over BTO right leg; lime green over dark green inscribed OT on the left leg. This young female, ringed as a nestling at Ynys Lochtyn in 2014 by Tony Cross, is now some 70 km from her natal site. She had previously been photographed and reported at Telpyn Point in Carmarthenshire by Alastair Proud back in October 2014. In addition her sibling sister (also colour-ringed) was recently reported by Richard Crossen near Manorbier on 8th June.

Hopefully these two will find suitable mates down here and also find the Pembrokeshire coast to their liking. Where ever they go, hopefully they'll go on to reproduce (adding something to the "gene pool") and continue to live a good age.