News from an Irish site

Below is a lovely note from Frank who lives in west Clare in Ireland.  He has choughs nesting in one of his outbuildings and contacted us last year for advice on how to keep his cat away from the chough's nest.  Last year the choughs there fledged two young, this year they have three. And the cat is behaving itself.

"I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits and that your Chough nesting season is progressing well. I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that our family of Choughs has just expanded from 2 to 5 over the last week and now we have 5 choughs flying about with the three chicks getting flying lessons from mum and dad every day. In order to make it safer from them this year I blocked up 15 entrance ways to the building, and although the cat could still get in if he was pretty committed to doing so, it's difficult for him to make it in there now and I've not seen him in the building at all over the past few months.  So it looks like the choughs had 3 chicks and all three started flying about a week ago and they're all able to fly pretty well by now so I'm confident we'll get them all to maturity without any casualties, at least not from the resident cat. I'll send you a picture once I get all 5 together.  Mum and Dad still go flying together without the three chicks, but all 5 come out occasionally and have a fly about."

Connecting choughs – Crave á bec rouge visitors

We originally thought the choughs in Cornwall that appeared back in 2001 came across from Brittany but it turned out we were wrong,  they were from southern Ireland (we know this thanks to DNA work by Aberdeen University, Marius Wenzel et al).

However (and very excitingly), we can now confidently report there is at  least one Breton chough in Kernow adding to the Celtic melting pot of choughiness (technical term).

Photo by Rob Jutsum
Photo by Rob Jutsum

Towards the end of February we were contacted by Rob, one of our small team of just-in-case’ chough watchers in North Devon to say he had found a chough at Baggy Point.  Rob got some lovely images and they showed the chough was colour-ringed but the rings were not ones we recognised.  After checking with colleagues working with choughs in Wales who said ‘no, not one of theirs’, a quick email was sent to our friends across the water in Brittany to see if they could identify  the bird.  Sure enough, yes they could!

Photo by Rob Jutsum
Photo by Rob Jutsum

Turns out this chough was ringed as a nestling on the island of Ouessant in 2007.  It was known to have been resident on the island until at least 2011, and could well have been there in subsequent years too, as monitoring in Brittany is not as intensive as it is here in Cornwall.

The chough then disappeared from Baggy Point after a couple of days (where it was happily feeding alongside some very photogenic Hebridean sheep),  but was ‘refound’ by Rob again in the same area towards the middle of March.  It all too soon vanished, but not for long though.  Ten days ago a member of the public, Ann, saw a chough in north  Cornwall and sent her record in to CBWPS, who of course forwarded it on to us.  As we were not expecting a chough to be in that place, we then asked local chough watcher Geoff to go take a peek and within minutes we could confirm it was the same Breton bird. How amazing is that!

Photo by Geoff Rogers
Photo by Geoff Rogers

The chough has not been seen for a few days now but intriguingly it was last seen the morning a mystery chough was observed flying over  a few islands on Scilly the same afternoon – waiting to hear if it is still over there or if it is colour ringed – if it isn’t colour ringed it could be the unringed chough that was seen in East Devon over recent weeks, or another bird from Brittany, Ireland or even Wales for good measure.   Will keep you posted..........

UPDATE: The Breton chough is at least one of the choughs that was spotted on Isles of Scilly in recent weeks (turns out there has been two, one possibly unringed).  Dr Ilya Maclean sent us the photo below he took while visiting the islands.  Last seen on the 14th April, where will it turn up next?

Photo by Dr Ilya Maclean
Photo by Dr Ilya Maclean

 

 

Finally!

After years of speculation as to where the 3 choughs who came to Cornwall in 2001 originated from, clever detective work has unveiled some very interesting findings.

We had always thought the choughs came from Wales or Brittanny but scientists from the University of Aberdeen have completed their research and DNA analysis suggest that they came from further afield - Ireland!

Wonderful news!

Read more about it here.