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Choughs and Castles with Touchbase Care

Choughs and Castles with Touchbase Care

Location: Dover Castle

Date: 4th October 2023

Blog Written by: Gini (Disabled Walk Leader/Founder)

A lovely visit to Dover Castle to meet the Choughs (similar to Crows, but with red pointy beaks and legs). Courtesy of English Heritage, Kent Wildlife Trust and Wild with Wheels.

First of all we stopped to admire the view over Dover Harbour across to France. Christine spotted the traffic lights near the lighthouses on the harbour wall.

We safely crossed the road and walked down to the Aviary and Statue as well as where a very large WW1 Anti-aircraft gun is kept. Which is still fired and makes a very loud bang.

The group learnt about Ivy Mining Bees and the Choughs. The choughs are mentioned in Shakespeares King Lear, which was written near the Samphire beaches close by, now known as Shakespeares Cliff.


Unfortunately choughs have not been living in Dover for over 200 years, but some breeding pairs can still be found in Cornwall and Wales.

The choughs have red pointy beaks for digging to find insects and they have red feet. They are also linked to Thomas Beckett from Canterbury Cathedral, where the story says that a crow stood in the blood of Thomas Beckett when he was killed in the cathedral by knights of the King back in the Medieval ages, and that's where the chough got its red beak and legs. They are also known as choughs from the sound they make 'chuff'.

We learnt about the reintroduction programme, and there are currently 8 juvenile choughs living nearby Dover Castle and they are all electronically tagged. They hope to continue adding more choughs over the next few years to help build the population.

The choughs are much too tame and friendly to be released back in the wild because they have been hand fed. One cheeky chough also would bring 5 pieces of gravel with its beak and stuff it in the keeper's shoe. We also learnt it was very clever and can count to 5, as it would make sure each of the 5 pieces were pecked out and returned.

The 2 male choughs in the Aviary will be moved to Wild Wood in the next couple of weeks, as the aviary only had planning permission for 3 years. So we made the most of seeing them up close before they leave.

And then we explored inside the Gun Emplacement where volunteer Neil shared his knowledge about the harbour and Navy activities in the wars. We all got a chance to look across to Calais with the binoculars, and we saw ships at sea.

We then walked up to the Inner Bailey (inner Castle) where fortunately the mobility bus passed just at the right time. So a couple to the group took a lift up the hill.

We walked across what was the old drawbridge into the Castle, and into a room where Kent Wildlife Community team led an activity to draw or write on a map of Dover as well as some cards. We shared images of our experiences which included choughs, Castles and plants.

The day was a bit windy but sunny at times and we had some shelter in the room in the castle. The group enjoyed their visit and walked back to the Minibus to head back to Touchbase for lunch.

📸 Image Credit: Gini Mitchell


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Please take a look at our FAQ's section for all details on the walks, accessibility and support that Wild With Wheels offers.

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