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Best year ever for Cornish chough

02/06/2011 06:37:17

Iconic bird spreads it wings ten years after return

June 2011: Cornwall's chough have had their best season to date, ten years after their natural return in 2001, it has been announced.

MAKING A COMEBACK: Cornwall's iconic chough

In all 15 chicks have hatched from four nests around the coast of West Cornwall. The project to support the chough's return has been overseen by a coalition of RSPB, Natural England and National Trust with huge support from local communities and volunteers.

Claire Mucklow, chough project officer with the RSPB said: ‘We are delighted. Back in 2001 we had no idea if the first nesting pair on the Lizard would be successful. But here we are, ten years later, with four successful nests around the Duchy's western coast. There's no reason now not to expect the birds to further recolonise their old haunts over the coming decade.'

The right habitat to feed and breed
The success is also a testament to the hard work of farmers in Cornwall. Traditional grazing above the cliffs where the birds nest keeps these areas in prime condition for the birds which depend on a mosaic of habitats and access to the soil for their invertebrate food.

Peter Bowden at Natural England added: ‘Natural England is delighted to have been involved with this successful species recovery project over the past ten years, especially now numbers seem to be increasing. We've worked with farmers around many miles of the Cornish coast and used Environmental Stewardship to encourage the right habitat for the choughs to feed and breed.'

The National Trust, a large coastal landowner in Cornwall has also been instrumental in the birds' success.  Lindsey Butterfield, National Trust ranger in West Cornwall, said: ‘It's such a joy to have choughs resident where I work, seeing them each day lifts my spirits. They bring an added richness to an area, which is already amazing for wildlife and its mining history.'

Alongside the management of land in Cornwall, the choughs' success is also a credit to the team of more than 100 volunteers that give their time to protect the nest sites, both from egg collectors and innocent disturbance.

Fantastic support
Claire Mucklow: ‘The support we get is fantastic, especially from people in villages local to the nest sites. Over the past couple of years we've been helping raise awareness of the birds through a number of initiatives, including work with local schools and our popular "Chough Clubs".

‘For me, as for many other Cornish people, choughs are the iconic emblem for Cornwall - inseparable from the Duchy's rich and varied culture, history and mythology.

'It's great they returned naturally and are back home where they belong.To mark the tenth anniversary of the birds return, a celebratory weekend of events is being held on June 18 and 19 in Lizard village.' For more details go to

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