Monday, 3 June 2013

Op Hathor - Cornish Chough Update

Latest update from our RSPB partner, Claire Mucklow regarding our Cornish Choughs:

The last week has been one of both tremendous highs and lows for us in Cornwall.
I’m very sad to have to report the loss of our wonderful male chough from Southerly Point on the Lizard. Just over a week ago a volunteer witnessed two choughs locked in combat for the most part of the day, and it appears that the new younger bird has ousted and probably killed the older male. I always joke ‘they will live forever’ when people ask me how long the pair at Southerly Point will be around, but sadly choughs are not invincible and nature in all its rawness has won the day. An end of an era, and the loss of a very special bird. 
What a legacy that chough and his mate have left Cornwall with though. Since they returned in 2001 they have brought so much joy to those lucky enough to spend time with them and a real sense of Cornish pride enveloped them. The pair together raised 44 chicks and many of those birds have gone on to breed themselves, securing a future for choughs in Cornwall. Proper job!
But, there is a happier twist to this tale. The new male, a bird often seen in the company of the Lizard pair, has adopted the old male’s chicks – extraordinary as normally a bird would try to kill any chicks that were not his. This is new behaviour, possibly not previously recorded for choughs. The female having invested so much time and energy in her new brood has accepted this new male and together they are feeding her two chicks, which are around two weeks old. Here’s hoping the female and her new mate will live for many a year.
Talking of chicks, there are already chough fledglings, five youngsters took to the skies last week in Penwith. The crazy weather has really affected the breeding season with six weeks between first and last broods, the last chicks will not fledge until early July. The total number of young for this season is 16, two broods of five, and three broods of two. There are a further three pairs of choughs that have shown signs of breeding but they are too young this year.
Hope this finds you all well, thanks for all your continuing interest and support for choughs.
Claire Mucklow
Cornwall Projects Manager
07764 230246 / 01392 453775