I spoke to one of our neighbours near the Cellars recently who is a keen bird watcher and takes part in the Chough watch for the Lizard pair of Choughs and she told me the four young Lizard choughs left home in July.
Choughs are part of the crow family but they have a lovely curved red beaks and red feet. I have talked about Choughs before as they are part of Cornwall’s history and even feature on the Cornwall coats of arm (see above) alongside a miner and a fisherman plus they are a success story as they disappeared in the 1940s and came back in the early 2000s. This may have been in part due to the foot and mouth which stopped people walking the coastal path and the improvements over the years to farming.
I went onto the Cornwall Chough website and found that it has been a great year for Cornish Choughs. They identified 19 chough pairs in the spring and 10 of these bred successfully producing 28 choughlets (great name!), double the number from last year which is excellent.
Source: Cornishchough.org and Chough Watchers Paul and Mark
A tricky start to the year
It was a tricky start to the year with the Beast of the East delaying mating and in some cases by three weeks. The first fledglings hopped out of their nest on 1 June at a site on the north coast and on June 10 the lizard brood of four made their first tentative flights. The reason for this knowledge is the army of chough watchers.
The highest protection
Choughs have the highest protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Due to their rarity they are at risk from egg thieves so during the breeding season when the female is incubating her eggs, (April) the nests are guarded by volunteers. As well as guarding the nests, the volunteers monitor Choughs’ behaviour so they can ensure greater chance of survival in future. A minimum of 3/4 hours a week is required from volunteers during the breeding season whatever the weather! noting their comings and goings! They record when the Choughs start courting, when they are laying eggs and when the chicks hatch and fledge which is when the young chicks develop wing feathers that are large enough for flight. But many of the Chough watchers start watching in March can go up to early July depending when the young ones leave the nest or are kicked out!
A very Cornish bird
The volunteers who watch the Lizard pair are based in Housel Bay – see picture below. One volunteer said in the village publication Lizard Lives that there are many rewards in being a volunteer as you see other interesting wildlife and “you have a little stake in a very lovely and very Cornish bird”. Plus they often get to make someones day by showing them a bird they have always wanted to see. I can relate to that as I have only seen them flying when they were pointed out but not close enough to see the red legs and beak!
If you do see a Chough independently of a volunteer do send information of your sightings to the Cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk including where, when, how many and any other detail.