Working on your holidays?

Fed up with all that flicking through guide books deciding on what to do next, reached you limit on culture, bored with lying around on the beach?  Perhaps next year you might consider a working holiday? – more and more people are doing just that and getting involved in the world of conservation.

Most of the volunteers that help monitor and protect the choughs in Cornwall are fairly local to a particular nest site. But, there are a growing number of volunteers who, because of their interest in the choughs, come to Cornwall and spend a working holiday with us.  For many years we rented accommodation on the Lizard so volunteers could stay free of charge in return for their time, but we could no longer afford the rental costs and regrettably folded this residential scheme.  However, some volunteers from ‘up country’ who came every year decided they still wanted to be involved so this year they rented and funded their own accommodation, plus, some new volunteers were expressing an interest and they also took up the working holiday challenge and booked their own accommodation so they could help us.  Thanks guys – you know who you are!

Some of the volunteers have been using their experience helping the National Trust at the Wildlife Watchpoint at Southerly Point, which we ran between 2002 and 2013, whilst others have spent their ‘holiday’ elsewhere in Cornwall where us and the choughs most needed help.  Jane and Ian from Dorset just sent us this lovely piece about their working holiday.

“Our visits to West Cornwall have included a trip to see the choughs since their return to the county, so volunteering with the chough watch combined the best of both worlds for us.  It gave us the opportunity (excuse) to sit on the cliffs watching the sea and the wildlife for a few hours each day with the knowledge that we were helping to protect these beautiful birds.

Volunteering in this way is such a positive experience.  We felt very much that we belonged there and were actively contributing to the region and the environment, rather than just being holidaymakers or birdwatchers.

The RSPB co-ordinator was inspirational, taking time to make sure we were comfortable with the area, briefing us on exactly what to do if we needed to talk to the public about the nest site and its protection and keeping in daily contact to see how things were going.  Her enthusiasm and interest in us as individuals all contributed so much.

I have been asked to add the down sides to our working holiday and I can honestly say that there were none.  We have been spreading the word with like-minded friends and hope to bring other volunteers with us next year.” We also took advantage of the discount offered by Classic Cottages.  I don’t know if they want this publicised or will continue to do it but it did help with costs for us.

All the best from Jane and Ian


Visitor gifting to support Cornish choughs

Funding the RSPB’s Chough work

Would you be able to help support the RSPB’s work to safeguard choughs in Cornwall?  Choughs are hugely important to Cornwall and since their return back in 2001 there’s been amazing interest in them and their burgeoning population.  The RSPB is the organisation that actively protects and monitors them with a small team of two staff supported by a fantastic gang of volunteers.  The team actively works to ensure the choughs have good places to feed (by working with farmers around the coast), safe places to nest (by protecting nest sites during the breeding season), advocacy work behind the scenes to make certain the chough’s future is secure in Cornwall into the future as well as all round work to help people learn more about Cornwall’s very own choughs.

We need funding to carry on this work and would love to hear from businesses that could support us.  A few pence on a certain product, a £1 for a booking, fundraisers, and the like would help all us with our costs and support our small but totally dedicated chough team.  Interested in supporting us? See here for more info and get in touch, we would LOVE to hear from you.

Pecking orders

Ted one of the chough volunteers keeps an eye on our red-billed friends on his patch and for a few evenings now has been reporting some partying going on down on the cliffs – ‘a right racket, all sorts of comings and goings, no parents in attendance’ and more dubious behaviour  too.  Are we are bothered?  Nope. No need to go charging down there to break up a rave or move on fly campers.  It’s all part of growing up if you are a chough. The noise and squabbling will be the young birds from this year and the older unpaired birds establishing the pecking order and who gets to roost in the best spot.  The younger you are the lower down the order you are and probably the lower down the cliff your rocky perch will be for the night. Some nights getting into the right order can take ages.

Ted also saw a pair fly in with their five young, they swiftly departed though leaving the juveniles to it as they sought a more tranquil roost spot further up the coast.  And who can blame them!