First step taken towards reintroducing Chough to Kent
Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) has taken the first step towards fulfilling its ambition to reintroduce Chough to Kent, having constructed an aviary at Dover Castle that will host the species from later this summer.
Chough was historically a characteristic bird of the White Cliffs of Dover, with the area's chalk grasslands and cliffs providing suitable nest sites and the rich diversity of insects on which Choughs feed.
However, these iconic corvids fell victim to intensive farming practices and historical persecution, leading to widespread extirpation with only small populations surviving in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Chough has successfully returned to the wild in Cornwall following recolonisation in 2001, and now KWT hopes that the same success can now be applied in Kent through a reintroduction project, to give the rare corvid an outpost in south-east England.
KWT, along with Wildwood Trust, English Heritage and Paradise Park, hope that the aviary Dover Castle will allow visitors to learn about what it describes as a "forgotten history". Chough is embedded in legends such as the murder of Thomas Becket, in which it is rumoured that as he lay dying, a crow flew down and, by paddling in his blood, acquired a startling red beak and feet, transforming into a Chough. The species is also immortalised at Shakespeare Cliff in King Lear.
Find out more about the Dover Chough aviary and KWT's wider plans for the species at www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/choughaviary.