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.
Nest 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!
Please note: These photographs are not to be re-produced, published or re-posted without permission of the photographer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
That's right! The birds are busy and no more so than the wild red-billed choughs of Cornwall.
As we head towards the breeding season, we know that there are approximately twenty four choughs spread out along the Cornish coast from the south east to the north.
Unfortunately, over winter it looked like the population had lost two breeding pairs with a chough from each one vanishing. That was made more sad by one of those pairs being an established pair who have raised a good number of chicks since 2011. In fact, last year they had four chicks fledge the nest and all four are still alive having made it through their first winter which is a happy but sadly a rare occurance in the chough world.
Now for the happy news! At the beginning of the year, we were looking at four established breeding pairs with the possibility of a new pair but all of a sudden we are watching nine pairs! That's right, NINE pairs!
That is the highest number since the chough recolonised in Cornwall in 2001.
They may not all breed this year but we are watching them all and will let you know how they get on.
We are looking for local people to join our team to protect and monitor the wild chough population in West Cornwall.
About three quarters of the population of Cornwall’s choughs are in the St Just area and reside along the coast between Pendeen and Land's End. Hopefully as the numbers go up, you are getting a chance to see them?
However, the numbers are still very low. Monitoring the choughs helps us keep an eye on the population and what they are up to so we know how to best adapt our conservation efforts for them.
Choughs have the highest level of protection as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, but due to their rarity they are still at risk from disturbance and egg thieves. A dedicated team of volunteers helps to protect nest sites from these risks.
In partnership with National Trust on the Lizard, we are also looking for volunteers to help protect and monitor the pair of choughs that live on Southerly Point.
You don't need to be a birdwatcher, you just need to be interested in wildlife and love the outdoors!
Taking part involves spending a regular amount of time each week through the spring and early summer.
Most people volunteer on their own but you can also volunteer with your partner or a friend.
Ultimately, you are part of a team and it is a great opportunity to meet others with similar interests during the spring.
You also get to learn about and see the choughs and other wildlife on Cornwall’s coast.
You must be over 18 years old. Have a good level of physical fitness and be comfortable outside in most weathers. Be passionate about wildlife and want to help protect the choughs.
Available for a few hours once a week or fortnight or more if you have plenty of time on your hands! We are looking for people who are available April to June.
If you are interested in helping the National Trust on the Lizard, visit their blog site for more info: http://www.lizardandpenrose.blogspot.co.uk/
If you are interested in helping the choughs in West Cornwall, or would like more information on the choughs in Cornwall, contact us on: email@example.com.
You can also register your interest to volunteer via Do-it.org