Thanks to generous funding from the Cornwall Local Action Group, over the past three years the RSPB has been running Chough Clubs for children in West Cornwall. Small groups of children from Landewednack, Mullion,St Just, and Pendeen primary schools have attended regular Chough Club sessions which are run on the principles of enquiry based learning and focus on teaching science in a fun and interactive way. Much of the teaching, being outdoors on the cliffs, has meant not only have the children developed a sound base of knowldege but also an understanding, appreciation and bond with nature near where they live. Catherine Lee who has led this innovative project has also visited other schools in the area introducing children to nature and the world of choughs. After one of Cat's visits St Buryan Academy adopted the chough as their emblem, the Academy minibus is spectacular!
This funding also meant we were able to show choughs to local people and visitors alike from our dedicated chough watchpoint at Southerly Point. Over the years we have spoken to thousands of people, many of whom return time and time again to see how the birds are doing and learn more adbout their conservation.
As the funding for this has now ended sadly we can no longer run Chough Clubs but we are looking into how we can develop an education programme in the future to inspire children in Cornwall.
You have all heard the story by now, the Southerly Point male was seen fighting with another chough and disappeared, leading us to believe this fight somehow led to his demise. You may also have heard by now that the chough who he fought with was male and has seemingly adopted the Southerly Point chicks which have now successfully fleged. We have come to know him as the 'champion' chough and the origin of this name, I feel needs some explanation.
Thanks to a grant from Cornwall Development Company’s Local Action Group, over the last three years, we have been working with communities and schools across West Cornwall. Through this grant we developed the Chough Club, a special children’s wildlife group. At the last session, Cat was relaying the seasons events to the children, who needless to say were devastated that the choughs they’ve been watching for three years have had such a tough time. Surprisingly, their reaction to the new single male chough and his behaviour was very simple and practical. They said:
“so first he was really, really bad, but now he’s being very good and working hard to look after the chicks, which is really important for all the choughs, right?” to which Cat said “yes, now he’s being a bit of a champion chough”
Not thinking much more of it, Cat and the Chough Club wandered down to the Lizard watchpoint to see if they could see the single chough. He appeared shortly after we arrived, and they all began to point and cheer “champion chough”, it’s champion chough!”. They were so excited, more excited than Cat had seen them before. What Cat thought was a passing comment has stuck with the children, and now the whole chough watch team. Since last Saturday one of the Chough Club kids has been visiting the point everyday to watch over“his champion chough”. He now proudly exhibits one of our chough pinbadges and the gaze of his binoculars rarely strays far from the chough's cave.