Falcon friends and neighbours

As we have reported before, many of the choughs in Cornwall have chosen to nest next to peregrines.  They generally rub along together ok – yes the peregrines regularly test the choughs’ speed and aerial skills with blurringly-speedy chases, (scared choughs bolt for the rocks and hide) but the choughs reciprocate and taunt the peregrines by circling over the peregrine’s eyrie, even dive-bombing sitting females.  Here are two young peregrines fresh from their nest ledge caught in a stunning photo sent in to us by John who was holidaying nearby and saw them perched up and zooming around the cliffs.  They are already reported to be ‘making friends’ in true falcon fashion with this young male chough sporting the green stripey and brown and white rings.  Luckily, this bird has a year’s worth of experience to draw on so will just get on with life, but with more of an eye to the sky as he will surely be the target of more practice runs.

 

Young peregrines on the lookout. Image by John Rainer

Young peregrines on the lookout. Image by John Rainer

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The neighbours flying in to visit. Image by John Rainer

The neighbours flying in to visit. Image by John Rainer

The 2015 youngsters make their first appearance

Yesterday’s sunshine worked its magic and three lots of chough chicks left their nests – we have never had three broods fledge on the same day before, us watchers are very proud!  And there are still three more broods to come over the next couple of weeks. Woohoo!

It is lovely to see the chicks emerge looking all fresh and new with their almost curved, browny-orange beaks (it will take another couple of months for them to get the characteristic crimson bill). The poor parents now have to up their game, not only keeping up with constant food demands the youngsters make, but keeping an eye on the chicks and what they are  getting up to.   There is nothing more cute  than a chough chick exploring its new world.

First photos courtesy of Steve Richards of one of the solo chicks (yellow/red rings) and from Dave Sporne of 3 of the Lizard 5   

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3 of the Lizard 5 chicks image by Dave Sporne

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Yellow/red and parents image by Steve Richards

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Yellow/red is a male – nearly as big as his parents already. Image Steve Richards

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Father and son. Image by Steve Richards

Choughlets or choughlings?

Whichever you prefer, Kernow has some!

On Friday, Tony Cross paid his annual visit to say hello to the wild choughs of Cornwall and to find out what they have been up to.

Choughs lay between 3 – 5 eggs each year and the number can depend on age, experience, weather, disturbance or whether they can find enough food.  The number can sometimes be less than 3 if any of those factors are working against them.  They reach maturity at 3 years old but in Cornwall they start breeding at 2 years old.

All six nests were visited in one day and this is what happened in nest visit order:

Nest 1 – this pair have a bumper full clutch of 5 chicks.  This is the Lizard pair and their second year at breeding – last year they had 3.  They moved house in the spring (twice!) and the clever birds have set up their new home in a really good spot so hopefully they will have a successful fledging too.

Nest 2 – second year of breeding and only one chick in the nest.  They had three last year so we were expecting three plus due to maturity and experience.
choughletlingNest 3 – First year breeding attempt and they are both two years old.  They have picked a very good nest site. So good, Tony couldn’t get to the nest in time so this could end up being a bit of a surprise for us come fledging time!
Nest 4 – This pair have had four chicks this year.  The past few years they have had a full clutch of five. Our oldest breeding pair of choughs in Cornwall and the oldest male in Cornwall at 11 years old.  This is their seventh/eighth year of breeding.

Nest 5 – This pair have had two chicks.  It is their third year of breeding and their third time of producing two chicks!

Nest 6 – a new pair who have produced one chick.  The male is an older bird who hasn’t bred before but the female is only two.  This site is a busy site from visitors to the area and the pair struggled to get going.

That is it for another year.  Here is a picture of Tony doing his thing!
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Please note: These photographs are not to be re-produced, published or re-posted without permission of the photographer. Contact cornighchoughs@rspb.org.uk