How are the Choughs doing?

 Choughs can be vulnerable to disturbance and the RSPB and a team of dedicated volunteers will continue to monitor and protect all Chough nests in the county during the breeding season.  To protect nest sites during this time, any Chough sightings reported to CBWPS will be passed to the RSPB, but we will not publish them on our website. 

August 22nd 2012

The youngsters from this year’s broods have dispersed, some further afield than others. Penwith youngsters have been seen around St Ives and near Zennor and last week were around the St Ages area (up to ten birds recorded) and Watergate Bay. Lizard young are venturing west as far as Perranuthnoe. Survival this year has been remarkably good with 15 of the 18 young accounted for still. An interesting record from out of Cornwall came from Gatwick airport!!
If you see choughs while you are out and about, please don’t forget to send us your records, even if you think ‘they must know already’ - cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk all records are entered onto our database.
Website: www.cornishchoughs.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cornishchoughs

July 18th 2012

Another great season with a total of 18 chicks from five broods. Two on the Lizard, two in Penwith and one on the north coast. Although the weather has been truly awful the choughs seem to be faring well and the post fledging survival of the chicks has been remarkable with only three of the 18 lost so far. It is not unusual for a large brood to be whittled down by one or two as the youngsters sometimes struggle to keep up with each other/adults and get left behind so they do not get as much food, are more vocal and more likely to attract predators. Sadly, one of the chicks from the new north coast brood has been predated too, but the fact that this pair managed to raise young after a rocky start to the season (they lost a clutch of eggs to a raven) is fantastic. A new pair also made an attempt at nesting, so that’s encouraging for next season, and of course the two males are still very much together and are technically counted as a breeding pair.
Some impressive chatterings have been seen, twelve choughs in the air at once – a fantastic sight.
Please keep a look out for choughs and report your sightings as this is the time of year when the youngsters are becoming independent and can turn up in unexpected places.

Clare Mucklow RSPB

June 8th 2012

The Cornwall Chough Project team (RSPB, National Trust and Natural England) are delighted to announce that Cornwall’s choughs have had another fantastic year.

Five nests have successfully produced more than 16 youngsters (one nest has not been checked but has chicks). The project has also witnessed what it believes to be the earliest fledging ever recorded in the UK with some young chough on the wing by third week in May.

At Southerly Point on the Lizard where the long-standing pair have nested every year since 2002, the brood is expected to take to the wing next week. The project is inviting the public to come down and see them, with the watch point open 10-5 every day weather permitting until 17 June.

The project is particularly grateful to the growing team of volunteers who have helped keep track of all the birds, ensure their nests are undisturbed and run the watch point.

If members of the public would like to catch up with the choughs and all the latest news there is a special Wildlife Weekend on the Lizard 23/24 June with lots of free activities for all the family.

See www.cornishchoughs.org for more info.

 

May 2012

Some good Chough news to share! Tony Cross who comes down from Wales each year to ring the Cornish Choughs was here last Friday and had a new record of 16 young choughs ringed this year (6 males, 6 females and 4 unknown sex) from 4 nest sites on the Lizard and West Penwith.  Very good to finally see who we’ve been watching get fed for the last month or so!

Those are good sized clutches so fingers crossed that they all will continue to do well after leaving the nest, and we can continue to see the Cornwall chough population increasing year to year. Tony tells us that the Welsh populations they study (which continue to decline) tend to have a survival rate of 10% on average, and the Cornish chough survival rate has been around 20% or a bit higher. Therefore, to help them get the best start possible we need to continue our close observations the first week once they leave the nest and are most vulnerable to human disturbance, especially from dogs off leash, which could quickly result in tragedy. Signs will be put up on the coast paths  to make path walkers aware of the choughs and ask them to keep their dogs under control, so hopefully that will prevent most people from unknowingly disturbing the birds.

Good luck Choughs and thank you everyone for your help so far!

April 2012

The Project Chough Newsletter for March is available HERE

March 2012 Chough Update from the RSPB

As we move into the breeding season the choughs are already nest building so we hope for another good year.?

Four pairs were successful in fledging 15 young last season out of the six pairs that attempted to breed, (one pair had their eggs predated and the 6th pair are both male (but are still counted as a pair as if they were not ringed we would not know they were both male so would be assuming they were an unproductive pair)). There are young birds around in the north of Cornwall so should be interesting to see if they pair up and start practising.
As usual we now keep specific Chough records off the website to aid nest security but please keep sending sightings in to, as per usual,  CBWPS and cornishchoughs.org

We need a few new volunteers for the far west of the county for the month of April. If anybody can help please get in touch with Claire Mucklow at the RSPB at Exeter (tel 01392 453775).

 

February 2012 Chough Update from the RSPB

In the Lizard
Just before Xmas we were getting sighting reports of a chattering of seven choughs, a fantastic sight at this time of year. Unfortunately, this dropped to six as we entered the New Year. The birds in this group are the two Lizard pairs, one of the local bachelors and the surviving male from last year’s Southerly Point brood, so unfortunately, it looks like we may have lost the young female. We are hoping she has just slipped off up the coast to find a mate as we race toward the breeding season.

In West Penwith
All seems well with the two breeding pairs still on territory. The exciting news is that we have had further reports of an unringed bird in the west. The origin of this bird is unknown but it is being seen regularly. (Please note if you do see an unringed chough outside of the Lizard Peninsula it is extremely unlikely to be one of the Southerly Point pair, do keep us informed.)

The North Coast
The young pair up north are still in the same area. The young group of four have unfortunately become a three and are spending most of their time in the Newquay area.

Please keep your sighting reports coming in, even if it is just “where, when and how many”. You can email sightings to cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk.

Events

We have a number of events coming up over the next few months, those listed below are all Lizard based events. Please note we are planning additional events in other parts of Cornwall, and will send out details once we have confirmed the dates:

1- Thursday 22nd March – Volunteer Day at Lizard YHA – (mid – late afternoon - time to be arranged)
The Cornwall Chough Project team has organised a Volunteer Day, to give new and existing volunteers a chance to learn more about the individual conservation organisations that make up the Cornwall Chough Project Partnership. The event will feature a short presentation and guided walk by Cornwall Chough Project Staff. Join us to find out more about the work we do here in the Lizard and across the wider Cornwall area. It will give us an opportunity to update on the choughs and other local wildlife issues, as well as provide a nice opportunity to catch up with faces old and new before the season gets rolling. Refreshments provided. More details in due course.

Guided Walks
Why not join us for a guided walk around the Lizard Peninsula with Cornwall Chough Project staff and volunteers who will introduce the choughs, the story of their return and their conservation needs, while also introducing other local wildlife on the Lizard Peninsula. (*Please wear suitable outdoor clothing and come prepared for the weather. No dogs please.) Any help on these walks would be greatly appreciated, so if you can commit to coming along do let us know.

Sun 22 April and Sun 20 May 9 am-11 am
Meet at the Chough Watchpoint (SW 700114)

Sun 3 and 10 June 9 am-11 am
Meet at Kynance car park (SW 688132)

Wildlife Weekend on the Lizard 23rd – 24th June
We are hosting another Wildlife Weekend in the Lizard. There will be
stalls on the green and a host of wildlife related activities throughout
the weekend including children’s games, crafts, guided wildlife walks,
talks, exhibitions, an evening of live music, entertainment and more. Keep an eye on our website for more details: cornishchoughs.org


Helping hands needed

We have already started to prepare for the coming season, it is going ‘to be all hands to binoculars’ so to speak. One of us will be in touch before the end of next month to find out if you are available to help at one or more of the project sites.

In the meantime we are still looking for help with the Chough Club, our wildlife enquiry group for school children. Please get in touch with Cat if you can help cat.leemarr@rspb.org.uk


KEEP UP TO DATE & IN TOUCH:

EMAIL: cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk
BLOG: www.cornishchoughs.org
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/cornishchoughs
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/rspb.southwest

Breaking News 10th Nov 2011

The unringed Chough has been spotted near Porthgwarra . The last time this bird was seen was July, it would be great to keep track of its movements, so if you do get a chance to see this ellusive Chough please do let us know.

Otherwise, this month there is very little to report except that the two Lizard young that have been spending a lot of time around Cudden Point have been seen in West Penwith so keep an eye out for them too. We also had a sighting of six Choughs at Housel Bay last week, which we presume to be the six adult birds.

Has anyone seen any Choughs east of the Lizard? We have had a few sporadic reports of Choughs at Coverack and wondered if this was the resident Lizard birds making their way east or whether we have young birds on that side of the coast too. Perhaps you could let us know if you have seen them. Help us monitor the Choughs movements over winter by emailing sightings to cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk or giving one of us a call.

October 2011 Chough Update from the RSPB

The cliffs are looking fantastically bronzed with the onset of Autumn. As Summer finally gives up, the birds are becoming much easier to keep track of, they seem fairly settled in a routine now, except for a few exciting happenings and unusual movements, which are keeping us on our toes.

So, what are the birds up to?

In the Lizard
Recently we have had some exciting sightings of a chattering of seven choughs around the Housel Bay and Southerly Point area. We can confirm that they are the two breeding pairs, one of the single males and two of the youngsters from this year’s Southerly Point nest that were spending a lot of time around Perranuthnoe. Over the past week these two young birds have been seen more regularly on the Lizard. Will the older single male catch the young female’s attention? At the moment she and her brother are inseparable and the older male seems preoccupied with tagging along with the Southerly Point pair.

In West Penwith
All seems well with the two breeding pairs mostly on territory, the boys are making trips to Land’s End and the lone female generally splits her time between the Botallack pair and the boys.

The north coast
The young group of four are venturing further and further along the north coast towards Padstow, they were at Trevose Head a few days ago. We are getting regular sightings of a group of four but sometimes three birds. Has anyone seen a single chough along this stretch of coast? We haven’t yet worked out where it is going and why it is pulling away from the group.

Please keep your sighting reports coming in, even if it is just “where, when and how many”. You can email sightings to cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk

Between now and the end of the December there are the following events:

TALK:  Nov 1st - 8pm
Flushing Sailing Club (TR11 5TZ)

"The Return of the Cornish Chough – Past, Present & Future" - A presentation by Cat Lee Marr from the RSPB on the work of the Cornwall Chough Project

For further information visit: www.flushingsailingclub.co.uk

TALK: Nov 25th -7.30pm   Note change of date
RSPB members meeting - Chacewater Village Hall (TR4 8PZ)

"Celebrating 10 years since the return of the Cornish Chough: A presentation by Cat Lee Marr from the RSPB. For further information & tickets call: Roger Hooper on rogerhooper@talktalk.net

September 2011 Chough Update from the RSPB

As you know it has been the best breeding season to date, and although many of the young are proving hard to find, we are getting regular sightings of at least five of the fifteen fledglings. So far, we have not had any negative reports, i.e.: found rings or remains, which would indicate there are other young birds out there escaping our attention. Please keep your eyes and ears open for the choughs and keep those sighting reports coming in, even if it is just “where, when and how many”. You can email sightings to cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk.

In the Lizard

The two breeding pairs in the Lizard are settling into their Autumn / Winter routine and travelling along the coast, feeding both east and west of Southerly Point, with the occasional report as far west as Loe Bar. This might well tie in with the fact that two of the 2011 Southerly Point brood are spending a lot of time between Perranuthnoe and Predannack.

The two lone Lizard males are still holding territory at their zawns on the east coast. One of the males is meeting up regularly with the breeding pairs but the other leads a much more solitary existence. Reports from as far as Coverack are coming in, do these relate to these males or young birds perhaps?

In West Penwith

All the adult birds are still holding their territories foraging away in stubble fields and along favourite cliffs. The young from Penwith this year have had mixed fortunes. Unfortunately, the three young from the Botallack brood that formed part of the magnificent seven, and were missing in action, haven't been sighted since the end of June but the other two, plus two from the other Penwith brood, have spread their wings and headed north, which brings us to...

The North Coast

There are now at least six choughs between Perranporth and Padstow!

Four of this year’s young from Penwith have headed to the surfing capital of Cornwall and have been seen around Watergate Bay and Mawgan Porth, the area they were last found in the 1960s/70s.

Events

We are trying to keep the twitter and blog posts up to date. There is also a new RSPB - South West facebook page. Do continue to check in on them, as you can find up to date information on our events and news there.

BLOG: www.cornishchoughs.org

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/cornishchoughs

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/rspb.southwest

Helping hands needed

We would really like to have a small team of people to help us at the events we attend. It would only be on an occasional basis for a few hours here and there. If you enjoyed talking to people about the choughs at the watch point, or just love talking to people why not give us a hand, we would certainly enjoy the company and it would be a huge help. Please get in touch with Cat if you can help. (cat.leemarr@rspb.org.uk)

 

August 2011 Chough Update from the RSPB

To see the rest of this newsletter please click HERE


July 2011 Chough Update from the RSPB

Fifteen Chough chicks fledged from four Cornish nests this season. The family groups are still together with most of the youngsters surviving their first month. The Southerly Point family are roaming quite a distance and have been seen around Mullion and Porthleven recently, whilst in Penwith the cliffs around Land’s End seem to be a favourite place for one of the families. The young birds will gain their independence towards the end of the month so it will be interesting to see how far they all go this year and what their survival rate will be as they learn to fend for themselves. News on any of our birds would be most welcome even if the rings cannot be read. Claire Mucklow

Mid December 2010 Chough 2010 Update

In Penwith the two males around Cot, may have dropped to one but two of the 2009 Lizard young are being seen at Cot Valley and another pair around the Botallack area. Are the others around Gwennap?
On the Lizard 5 of the 6 birds are ok, one female has disappeared (but there has been a chough seen on the Isle of Wight....who knows it could be her).
Any news on our birds would be most welcome even if the rings cannot be read.

Mid August 2010 Chough Update

The 2010 young choughs have not been having the best of luck.  Three were lost to predators just after fledging, and now two more have succumbed to the forces of nature.  Sadly, but astonishingly one Lizard young male was found freshly dead floating a mile out to sea from Portwrinkle by a fisherman!  This just shows the distances choughs will travel, especially young birds. There has also been a record of a chough in south Devon at Start Point so perhaps it was traveling with a sibling.  The very next day another youngster’s remains were found at Predannack by a visitor and reported in, showing just how important colour ringing is to understanding what happens with our Cornish choughs.  There have been no other recent sightings of the remaining young except a male, down around Cape Cornwall, who is still associating with his parents and a chatter of other choughs in the area.
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All sightings as always are much appreciated. Please endeavour to note details of rings, location, date and time and pass on the information to  bird-news@cbwps.org.uk or to Claire Mucklow at the RSPB at Exeter (tel 01392 453775).

Mid July 2010 Chough  Update

Five pairs of choughs attempted to breed this season, two established pairs and three pairs of young birds (two year old females and males of assorted ages).  Four nests got to the chick stage, but one was sadly predated.  Nine chicks fledged between the three remaining nests, four from the Lizard Point pair (their ninth brood), three young from the west Cornwall pair (their third brood) and two from another site on the Lizard.  As of mid July six of the nine fledged young are still surviving.
Last year’s six surviving immature birds are to be found in Penwith, between Lamorna and Pendeen, with two roaming the north coast as far as Newquay.

January 2010 update

There are 10 choughs in Penwith between Pendeen and Gwennap Head, a good place to catch up with them is around Cot Valley.  On the Lizard there are eight birds.  Sadly the breeding female from Porthleven area disappeared towards end of November, her mate is on the lookout for a new female.   Total number of known choughs in the county is 20.

More volunteers are needed to help protect the nests this season. Don't let egg thieves get their hands on our chough eggs!

Latest News12th November 2009.


The four young birds from this years Lizard brood, plus the two surviving  young from the West Penwith pair, are still around the Cape Cornwall area, sometimes making forays to Gwennap Head.
There was a a record of a chough at St.Ives recently which may possibly be a male born on the Lizard in 2007, carrying an orange/white leg ring.
A pair can be seen in the Porthleven area, though they may head off to Perranuthnoe area like they did last winter.
On the Lizard, thanks to some detective work by Ali and Keith, we now know the whereabouts of three pairs, plus of course the original Lizard pair. Southerly Point to Kynance still seems to be the favourite area to track them down.
That makes at least 21 choughs!
Clair Mucklow RSPB Projects Manager for Cornwall

More volunteers are needed to help protect the nests next spring. Don't let egg theives get their hands on our chough eggs! Contact Roger Hooper or Claire at claire.mucklow@rspb.org.uk

Latest news : July '08

The West Penwith pair and two young are doing well.  First breeding in this area for 150 years, another little bit of chough history.  There are now at least six choughs to be found along the coast between Pendeen to Porthcurno.  The Lizard family have been travelling up and down the west coast, meeting up with the immature flock, at times up to twelve choughs can be seen in the air at once!   Soon the four young females will become independent and hopefully join the older more experienced birds and get through the critical August/Xmas period.

 Any sightings as always much appreciated.  please endeavour to note details of rings, location, date and time and pass on the information to bird-news@cbwps.org.uk or to Claire Mucklow at the RPSB at Exeter  (tel 01392 432691).

picture Matt Sallis

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BACKGROUND

 

 

Three Choughs arrived on the Lizard peninsula in south-west Cornwall early in 2001.  Two of the birds paired up, the third leaving the area.  The pair nested successfully in 2002, the first breeding in England for fifty years. 

They have bred annually since, raising a total of 20 young.  In 2006 a second pair bred.  They are made up of a male from the 2004 Lizard brood and an unringed female.  Three young fledged, making a total of eight young this year.   A third pair built a nest but the female was found dead.

In north-west Europe, Choughs still breed in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Brittany. In 1992 there were 342 pairs  in Britain and the Isle of Man. Elsewhere in Europe, the birds breed in mountains from Iberia, through the Alps to Greece and Turkey.
 


Because of fears of persecution, the birds are protected by a round-the-clock watch by RSPB staff and local volunteers from CBWPS. 


Choughs forage on grassy cliff tops, grazed by cattle, for their food, consisting mainly of insects and other small invertebrates. The Chough's gradual population decline throughout the last century has been attributed to the reduction of cliff top grazing and more intensive farming methods. The Chough's return crowns nearly 10 years' hard work in Cornwall to provide suitable areas for nesting and feeding. This has been achieved through agreements with local landowners, and farmers managing their land for nature conservation, supported in some areas by DEFRA's Countryside Stewardship Scheme.


The RSPB, National Trust, English Nature and the Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) acknowledge the considerable help provided from local people and volunteers, who watch over the nesting location to prevent disturbance and ward off egg collectors.

The original adult pair can usually be found in their home range between Lizard Point and Kynance.  Other birds may be seen anywhere from the Lizard to Marazion, and on the coast in the far west around Lands End and St.Just.

All of the young birds have been colour-ringed and sexed by Tony Cross in collaboration with the RSPB, to enable their progress and movements to be monitored.  Details:

2002:  3 chicks fledged, all males

2003:  3 chicks fledged, 2 males and 1 female

2004:  4 chicks fledged, 2 males, 2 females

2005:  5 chicks fledged, 2 males, 3 females

2006:  8 chicks fledged from 2 nests, 5 males, 3 females

2007:  9 chicks fledged from 2 nests, 6 males, 3 females

2008: 6 chicks fledged from 2 nests

If you see any Choughs in Cornwall, please endeavour to note details of rings, location, date and time and pass on the information to webmaster or to Claire Mucklow at the RPSB at Exeter  (tel 01392 432691).

 

Squabbling Choughs: Sept 29th 2006   

While looking over the small fields by the coast path my attention was drawn to a great commotion among the crows and jackdaws .  I went over there, which took some five minutes, during which time the crow commotion continued. They were diving onto something on the ground and  I expected to see a jackdaw in the talons of a peregrine, or something similar, and was very surprised to see two choughs on the ground locked in what appeared to be mortal combat. They continued fiercely fighting and calling as I approached and more concerned with the battle than me.  I was reluctant to let the fight continue as the last thing we need is for one of our choughs to be killed by another.  I became convinced that one would be killed or injured if the fight continued, so decided to separate them by approaching closer.  It was not until I was within twenty metres that they separated.  They circled around for a minute or two and then settled back to where the fight took place right in front of me.  I could see the rings on their legs but had no note book.  I remember them as definitely lime over black (with orange or yellow over metal on the other leg), and definitely reddish over reddish  (with either yellow or orange over metal on the other).   They were probably the two males I’ve recorded here since January. The birds then seemed to behave perfectly amicably towards each other, staying close together for the next hour, when I left them sitting on a stone wall.  Roy Phillips

Photographs of Choughs on the Lizard by Richard Bedford (1st and 3rd photos) and Andy Pay (2nd and 4th photos). 

See www.richardbedford.co.uk for more images.