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.
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.
For your elevenses reading pleasure! This is our newsletter from 2014. Sorry, we are late posting it!
Chough newsletter 2014