Chough Watch on the radio today

Just did an interview about the Chough Watch team winning the President’s award and latest chough news.  It should be on the Radio Cornwall  Drive Time slot this evening (22 Sept).

Watchers Rob, Rowena and Mark will be off to accept the award soon at the RSPB’s AGM.

Lovely evening on the cliffs yesterday.  Quite a gaggle of people watching the Poldark filming,  they all thought I was odd looking in the opposite direction and pointing to birds in the sky.  Ok, I did sneek a look and can confirm the choughs were doing their best to get into shot.  Men in hats and swishy coats were about. 

 Overnight the choughs must have been chattering to each other  – 20 of them staged a fly past over the film set this morning.  They are determined to feature.  

Savvy parents and safety in numbers

We have been away for a bit so just doing some catching up on the sightings front.  The  young birds seem to be doing reasonably well so far, a few have been lost along the way since fledging as is always the way, but it’s looking an ok year.

You would tend to think that the heavier losses would be where the adults are not experienced parents, the first timers, and in some cases this is true – the Roseland pair lost two of their three chicks almost certainly to the neighbouring peregrines quite quickly after chicks left the nest, but another new pair coped really well and their two young are still around. Normally chough would fledge just before the peregrines, probably a wise strategy as who wants to be target practice by a family of falcons! The late nesting chough pairs this year were those that didn’t get it together until the last minute so hopefully next year they will be better prepared and earlier to take some of the pressure off.

Now the young birds have loosened ties with their parents it makes sense to flock together for safety and to learn from others.  Choughs do this, and with style -there’s always time to loaf around and chill with your mates on the cliffs at Botallack as captured by Geoff a few days ago.

Loafing and preening at Botallack - Geoff Rogers

Loafing and preening at Botallack.  Geoff Rogers

Conservation gold

We’ve just learnt that the Chough Watch team has won the RSPB’s President award!

The President’s award recognises significant volunteer contribution to nature conservation and to the work of the RSPB.  It’s the equivalent of winning an Olympic gold medal, so very special and hard won.

Team Chough  – you are the best.  Thanks for all your help this year and over the last 15 years to further chough conservation.

Claire and Nicola

as Mark just said …Yayyyyyy go us!

Volunteer view part 2

Another lovely piece written by Paul who travels to Cornwall each spring to help us keep the choughs safe during their critical incubation time.

When I tell me people I’m off to look after birds in Cornwall – apart from truly awfully puns based on ‘chough’ – the most common reply is “why would you want to do that?”

Why would you not? For a start, there’s the fabulous scenery; rugged Cornish coastline, glorious sunrises and spectacular skies. Do I need to mention there are birds and animals galore?

Then there are the people you get to meet – some know about the choughs and the story behind their recolonisation in Cornwall, they will often ask about a particular bird “have you seen him / her?”, “how are they all doing this year?”. Then there are people who look at you oddly when you mention choughs – I’m sure some think it’s some sort of elaborate practical joke – but when told the ins and outs of a Cornish chough’s life, carry on their way with smiles on their faces. Even better are the times when you can show people a chough!

Sometimes, of course, you have to ask people to avoid an area or stop throwing stones into a cave but most passers-by (whether locals or holidaymakers, adults or children)) are only too pleased to comply once they understand the fragility of the birds’ nest area.

I also get an enormous buzz by doing something for nature. Every little helps to redress the balance. Though I sometimes forget that when the sun goes in and the rain is coming in horizontally. It’s usually only a moment before I remember again.

Lastly, there are the birds themselves. Intelligent, sleek and beautiful flyers. After a few days being near them, you too might find yourself talking to them. Do I do that? No, of course not. Ahem.

Paul also volunteers his time in Malta to help prevent the illegal killing of millions of songbirds each year.

Thanks Paul!