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Meeting the Choughs at Dover Castle

Meeting the Choughs at Dover Castle

Location: Dover Castle

Date: 5th June 2023

Blog Written by: Tamsin (Walk Leader)

Looking back a couple of weeks to my first accessible walk for Wild with Wheels and Get Active Get Outside Dover, it was an absolute honour to do. As a walk leader I am grateful to the great outdoors for letting me showcase just a little of what it has to offer.

Dover castle is steeped in history, wildlife, flora, and fauna and it has been supporting the amazing project of the reintroduction of choughs to the White Cliffs of Dover.

We took a scoot from our meeting point at the lower car park down the road towards the choughs which are housed in an aviary on the old hospital grounds opposite the fire command post. Then we spent time learning all about the project from one of the castle staff that volunteers his time to care for the choughs.

The Choughs

Red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocoraxn

What is a chough? Red beak, red legs, broad deeply fingered wings in flight, crow size, black feathers, a 39-40cm long body, a 73-90cm wingspan and lifespan up to 16yrs.

It’s the rarest member of the crow family in Britain and a Species of European Conservation Concern and Schedule 1 (WCA). They lived in Kent 200 years ago but were extirpated by persecution and habitat loss.

In 2018 Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust established a new partnership to deliver a shared vision for a Wilder Kent working with Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust, Paradise Park and English Heritage.

With everyone working together to establish a population on the White Cliffs of Dover with the aim of 50 birds, 15 breeding pairs in 10 years.

All the project partners have been working hard to fulfill their expert part with the castle now holding just two of the male birds whilst the two female birds are off being bred with other choughs at Paradise Wildlife Park to avoid close genetic breeding. And just recently Paradise Wildlife Park have announced the arrival of some little hatchlings fantastic news for the project.

After meeting the choughs volunteer Neil showed us inside the fire command post where we were able to look through binoculars into the English Channel; it was a little misty, so we were unable to see France but often you can see it on a clear day however we did see lots of ferry’s and boats. We then scooted to the battlements walk to see some of the huge cannons and the flora and fauna. We found Alexanders (Smyrnium Olusatrum) are also known as Horse Parsley, Black Lovage.
We also saw Red Valerian (Centranthus Ruber) amongst other plants.

We then came back around to the main castle along the roads taking a little detour along into a tunnel to see the beautiful view. Some of the group who had time to stay enjoyed a chat and refreshments in the café.

A little more information:

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum are also known as Horse Parsley, Black Lovage) Alexanders - Norfolk Wildlife Trust 

Red Valerian (centranthus ruber)   link here 


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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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