Cornish choughs enjoy ‘record breaking’ year

Cornwall's chough population continues to make a comeback, with 23 newly fledged choughs taking to the skies this week.

 

Choughs (pyrrhocrax graculus) pair in flight at dusk, South Stack RSPB reserve, Wales

According to conservation charity, RSPB this is the most successful breeding season in 15 years, with eight of 12 breeding pairs successfully rearing young.

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This red-legged, red-billed member of the crow family was once a common sight in Cornwall, but by 1973 the bird had become absent from the area. However, in 2001 three choughs, now known to have come from Ireland, made a surprise re-appearance – three decades after the last surviving chough had been seen in Cornwall.

Choughs can begin to breed at two years old but this season one-year-old birds have successfully reared young, an extremely rare event barely documented before.

Conservation work by the charity and volunteers has seen choughs make a steady comeback, with 54 choughs seen flying around the Duchy of Cornwall.

Nicola Shanks, RSPB field officer, said: “I hope that everyone, the volunteers who help monitor the choughs, the farmers who work to provide crucial habitat for them, and the Cornish communities that support ‘their’ choughs are as proud as I am.”

A newcomer has also joined the Cornish chough population, which suggests regular bird movement between Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland and Wales. New arrivals and their offspring are important to the health of the resident breeding population.

Now is a great time to see coughs around the Cornish coast and on RSPB reserves around the country. To find a reserve near you or for volunteering enquiries visit www.rspb.org.uk.

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Image: RSPB