Here we go again…

...and we can't wait!

What a thoroughly wet and wild winter we have had, hopefully spring will bring dryer weather. 

Happily our red-billed friends, the choughs seem to have got through the winter ok.  As the population grows and with the choughs spreading across the Duchy they can now be seen in North Cornwall as well as in the West and the Lizard. 

We are getting close to that time of year again when we hardy Chough Watchers are out on the cliffs keeping a watchful eye over our local breeding pairs.   

Last year the choughs had their most successful breeding season yet but even though the population is growing, their numbers are not secure.  Young choughs have to survive their first year of severe weather conditions, learn where to find food and become predator aware.  We estimate that about a third of the young birds make it through their first winter so it takes time for numbers to grow. 

We help where we can, for instance, working with local farmers and landowners along the coastal fringe to help provide the right habitat conditions where the choughs can find food to survive.  We also give them a good start in life if we can by ensuring nests and the areas around the nests are safe from disturbance.  Accidental disturbance may cause the adult choughs to abandon a nest or lead to failure of a breeding attempt. When the young fledge the nest they are particularly vulnerable to predators and accidental disturbance by us humans.  Sadly egg collecting still takes place even though it is illegal in the UK.  With the choughs being a rare species  they are vulnerable to collectors.  We do as much as we can to prevent this happening and this is where you can help us.

How you can help:

By volunteering some of your time, either on a weekly basis or however much you can give to watch over the choughs.  This would require you to sit outside, manned with binoculars, and we would suggest a flask and some nibbles.  Don't worry if you are not a confident birder, the choughs make it easy for us and we will run through what to do for you.

At the public watchpoint at Southerly Point, Lizard.  If you like talking to people and would love the chance to show off the choughs then this is the spot for you.

By talking about the choughs where ever you are.  Help us create awareness of the choughs by sending friends our way at the watchpoint or by pointing them in the direction of this site or our Twitter.

Sending in your sightings.  We are a very small team with a fantastic bunch of volunteers but we also rely on your sightings to help us keep track of how the choughs are doing and how we can help them further.

Lookout for choughs and signs.  If you see a chough, please try and not scare it by getting too close.  If you have a dog, please keep it under control.  We often put signs out during the breeding season making visitors aware the choughs are there and we ask that you can help by please taking notice of the signs and following any instructions given.

Choughs are fantastic - isn't it great having them around?

Email: cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk or follow us on Twitter: @cornishchoughs for more information. 

Team Chough!

Here's a photo of some of us Chough Watchers taken at our end of season do recently.   Luckily it was one of the few dry days we have had and the sun came out for us.  Thanks to Keith and Maggs for the BBQ and to Cat, Chris and Alice for creating a feast.  We sat around afterwards in the Football Club and enjoyed sharing tales and photos of the choughs, theirs and our adventures on the cliffs and toasted another successful year for our red-billed friends.

Team Chough 2012

Photo credit

Paul Gillard