"That'll be us then"
"That'll be us then"
...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.
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?
It’s getting very close to that time of year when hardy volunteers spend time out on the cliffs keeping a watchful eye on the Cornish choughs.
As you know, the choughs in Cornwall had a fantastic year in 2011. Not only did we celebrate the fact that they had been back breeding in Cornwall for 10 years but that they fledged a record 15 chicks in total across all breeding pairs too. Nature of course dictates whether those 15 chicks survive. We hope that at least a third of those youngsters make it through the first year as is the case here with some of them now found as far afield as Newquay.
We do what we can to give choughs the best chance of survival. Sadly as shown in the media recently, egg collecting and persecution is still a real threat in the UK to these and other rare species. Nesting and feeding choughs are also vulnerable to disturbance if people and dogs approach too close.
We will put the usual signs up in the areas where the choughs are nesting and wanted to thank you in advance for your help in ensuring the prospect of another successful year for these birds.
We are very grateful that we have a fantastic chough crew, including many local people, on board to help watch out for the choughs but could always do with more help. If you like being outdoors, watching wildlife and have some time you can spare, then please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Claire on 01392 453775.
Don't forget you can follow us on Twitter @cornishchoughs.