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!

Please note: These photographs are not to be re-produced, published or re-posted without permission of the photographer. Contact

Coastal Birds of Cornwall

Check out this fantastic picture of a chough and a kestrel taken recently in the far west of Kernow.  The photo was taken by James Sellen on his recently holiday to the area.

Photo by James Sellen

Spring is here

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.