|Conservationists are celebrating as the first ever baby chough chick is born at the Wildwood Trust conservation centre. Expert conservationists at the Canterbury based charity say this is the first ever chough to be born in Kent in at least 150 years. Lost to Kent for centuries, the magnificent chough, which adorns the Canterbury City’s coat of arms and civic regalia, can once again be seen back in the county synonymous with this wonderful bird.|
The chough, a member of the crow family, is one of the rarest birds in the UK and was driven to extinction in Kent well over 100 years ago. The chough has a long-standing association with Kent and still lives on in the coat of arms of Canterbury City and the University of Kent, and in Shakespeare’s King Lear (Act iv – Fields near Dover, Scene 6) where he introduces the chough in his description of the Dover Cliffs.
The Canterbury-based charity Wildwood Trust is part of a ground-breaking project to assess if these amazing birds can be released back into the Kent countryside. Famed as acrobats of the sky, the chough naturally performs majestic flying displays which can now be seen by visitors to Kent’s largest bird aviary at the Wildwood Trust Animal park on the A291 between Canterbury and Herne Bay. This is the first success by Wildwood’s team of expert keepers in the hope of establishing a long-term breeding programme for the bird’s return to Kent.
Leading rewilding expert & Wildwood Trust boss Peter Smith said:
“I am so thrilled we have bred this remarkable baby bird and this marks a landmark in reversing the damage done to our countryside. Our expert Keeper team are on a long and difficult journey to allow us to breed enough birds to fill Kent’s skies once again. The chough is an amazing bird whose aerial acrobatics can now thrill our hundreds of thousands of members and visitors. But the story of the chough gets to the very heart of problems of wildlife in the UK. The chough were driven to extinction by persecution and detrimental farming and landownership systems. We can bring these magnificent birds back to Kent, but to make them thrive in our countryside we must make some major changes to how we use the land and the chemicals we pour onto it. By rewilding poor agricultural land full of bugs and little beasties, choughs and a host of rare wildlife can once again thrive in Kent.”