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.
Interested? 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.
Those of you following the story of the Lizard choughs will know that the original pair's two young were fostered by G/W (named after his green/white colour rings), and that they successfully fledged. Well that was in early July, and happily the youngsters are doing really well. The latest news is that the male G/W has now found himself a mate! One day he was with his two adopted chicks around the cliffs at Kynance and the next day he was seen cosy-ing up to an unringed bird with the chicks in attendance. This unringed bird had spent the previous few months on the east coast of the Lizard with another male - she arrived a bit too late in the season to breed (and possibly she was too young to breed anyway). We are uncertain of her origin, she could be the only unringed Cornish born chough (born at a north coast site in 2012) or a completely new bird to Cornwall as there were certainly new incoming choughs to Cornwall towards the back end of 2012.
So will G/W and the new female remain a pair, will they breed next season and will they take over the Southerly Point cave? Time will tell (and we'll be sure to tell you).
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.