The choughlets are here!

I have been delayed posting this news for reasons to follow but what I want to start with is that we are pleased to let you know that five wild chough pairs have successfully fledged thirteen chicks to add to Cornwall's chough population.   These are pairs from the Lizard to St Ives:

To that reason that has delayed us in writing the news of fledging....

...We are still waiting for one nest!  However, it is an unvisited nest site where the male disappeared at some point during the breeding season but the female is coming and going to the nest as if she is feeding chicks.  We have learnt that choughs will still go through the motion of each breeding stage and have no chicks to show for it.  We are hoping this female surprises us but we are still waiting and watching...

When we know for sure about this nest, we will post again the full breeding season ups and downs in more details.

Thanks to (in order) Dave Flumm, Paul Mason, Geoff Rogers and Sarah Measham for the above photos.

UPDATE:  Well...a few hours later a young choughlet said hello to the outside world. She did it! Some point in the middle of May after she had finished incubating, she lost her partner and gained a new one - maybe in a week!  A one year old male has done his best to bond with her and is now a step dad!

Total is now at 14 choughlets.

Thanks to Geoff Rogers for the above photo.

PLEASE:  If you see a young chough, give them space.  They are at a very vulnerable stage where they are learning about dangers and how to fly and feed.

Celebrating Cornwall’s specialty species – choughs and seals!

By Sue Sayer, Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust
(Republished From West Briton)

The annual Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) conference was held last weekend. Themed as ‘Working in Partnership for Nature’, inspiring talks were followed by field trips. Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) partnered with National Trust’s Cat Lee and Nicola Shanks from RSPB Chough Watch to deliver a field trip around Lizard’s Southerly Point looking for Cornwall’s specialty species – choughs and seals. Embedded in Cornish culture, it is obvious why choughs are a Cornish speciality – but why grey seals?

As a globally rare species, grey seals are protected by the Bern Convention, the Conservation of Seals Act and in Sites of Special Scientific Interest legislation. Whilst the UK has 38% of the world’s population of grey seals, there are surprisingly fewer grey seals in the UK than red squirrels, so we are incredibly lucky to have them on our doorstep and people travel from all over the world to get a glimpse!

If we want people to protect other rare species such as African Elephants for us then we need to protect grey seals for the rest of society and future generations. This is the role of CSGRT and its huge number of amazing volunteer citizen scientists who routinely survey their local stretch of the southwest coastline all year round for years. CSGRT is an evidence based conservation charity using research findings to inform policy and management by giving seals a voice.

This is exemplified by our Lizard team who we visited for the field trip. Alec and Enid Farr and Terry Thirlaway joined in 2014 and survey seals here every single day, all year round. Similar to the rest of Cornwall, seal numbers here appear to be stable despite healthy pup numbers suggesting that survival rates are low and mortality from anthropogenic impacts is high – which is worrying. It seems that the highest rate of entanglement for any phocid seal species anywhere in the world is taking its toll, combined with high disturbance rates and ongoing effects of marine pollution.

CSGRT have their work cut out to get their key messages out to protect grey seals: Admire from a respectful distance; always leave seals as you find them; never feed wild seals; never return beached seals to the sea; pick up all looped items from beaches and only eat sustainable, local line caught fish and potted shellfish. If you are concerned, call our partner organisation British Divers Marine Life Rescue (01825 765546) as they will assess and rescue injured seals for Cornish Seal Sanctuary rehabilitation and always report your seal sightings to to add to our body of knowledge about our Cornish specialty marine species.

Photo by Alec Farr.

Chough filmstars

See our lovely new chough film about how partner organisations work together for choughs.  A huge thanks to Rosie Dutton, Max Thompson and Daphne Wong who are studying marine and natural history photography and film at Falmouth University for making it.  And to Lyn and Judy for their starring role. Oh,  and of course the choughs!



Chough nest checks

Every year, a licensed bird ringer visits the chough nest sites to ring, sex and check the health of the chicks and this week the time came that all us chough watchers wait nervously for, to find out how well they are doing.

Four sites out of six (two inaccessible) were checked:

Nest no 1: 4 chicks
Nest no 2 4 chicks
Nest no 3: 1 chick
Nest no 4: no chicks - possible predation.

Nest no 4 was not a big surprise to us as chough watchers witnessed the birds attempt to briefly nest build again three weeks ago and ravens visiting the site. However, we remained hopefully as they appeared to carrying on making trips to their nest as if they were feeding young. Sadly, they were just pretending and going through the motions still.  This was the same nest that was predated by ravens in 2015 but were successful in the same site last year.