Posts Tagged ‘chough’

Choughs

July 22, 2014

Normally I prefer to have reasonably OK photos on this blog. Today’s photos are less than perfect, but they represent something I am so pleased to have seen.

When we visited Botallack recently I had no idea that choughs might be on the agenda. I knew they were on the opposite coast, around The Lizard and that these Cornish choughs were the only ones in England.

Now hang on a mo. I’ve jumped off the deep end without explaining my main characters. Choughs are birds. They are members of the crow family and like quite a lot of that family they are largely black. They have bright red beaks and legs and they like the wild coastlands of the west. I was careful to say the Cornwall choughs are the only ones in England for I believe there are colonies in Wales and other areas of the UK.

Anyway, on arrival at Botallack we were greeted by a notice which entreated us not to disturb the choughs.

Almost immediately afterwards we came across a group of people with scopes and binoculars. Clearly they were birders.

‘Are there choughs about today?’ I asked them.

‘Yes!’ came the reply. ‘There are the two adults with six youngsters. We saw them fly by just a few minutes ago’.

So of course, apart from looking at mine engines we kept our eyes peeled for these delightful birds.

And sure enough, before we reached the engine houses, one flew over. My photo is utterly poor but here it is.

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Yes, it’s blurred but you can see the distinctive fingers at the ends of the wings and just make out the red bill.

Now for many, that wouldn’t be anything to get excited about, but it certainly pleased me.

We continued a walk in the area, and then got our picnic to enjoy in glorious surroundings and fantastic weather.

I got my scope out – not that it would have been any good for seeing the fast flying and aerobatic choughs, but I enjoyed watching the gannets which tend to follow much more predictable courses.

Our bit of luck came as we were packing away. All eight choughs appeared over the headland.

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This could be something like a quarter of the England population. It’s a magical sight for me.

 

 

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The Lizard

May 31, 2013

Yesterday we looked at Britain’s most southerly railway station (also the most Westerly in England) at Penzance.

Quite close by is Britain’s most southerly point – Lizard Point. Readers may be relieved to know that no railway ever went to Lizard although the railway company ran one of the earliest motor bus services from the nearest station at Helston.

There are other things to get excited about at Lizard; things that belong in the natural world.

When I visited back in 2003 I was ignorant of what might be expected there. My daughter’s boyfriend (now husband) was captivated by seals. And so might I have been had a bird not flown by. To my utter amazement, it was a chough. Future son-in-law was unimpressed. ‘It’s just a black bird,’ was his summing up. But I didn’t even know I could see a chough in England and yet there was the distinctive red beak and legs. I was quite enthralled by it.

Sad to say I got no decent pictures for at that time I was using a lovely digital camera with a maximum resolution of 1.3 mega pixels. Distant birds and seals had to stay distant. You can’t digitally zoom in very much at all.

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So that’s my chough and I can see why son in law wasn’t much impressed.

Whilst there, I photographed a flower which I didn’t recognise. I see I captioned it ‘Lizard Flower’.

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Let’s fast forward to 2011 and we were at Lizard with son and his girlfriend (now wife).

There were no seals to be seen, but the RSPB have now erected chough watching places and have experts on hand to tell you where to look and what to expect. I was now using a 6 mega pixel camera so I have a bit of digital zoom capability.

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Choughs remained a bit distant, but definitely chough like. Two of them did a little bit of aerobatics for us.

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The ‘Lizard Flower’ I now knew was an invasive species from South Africa – the Hottentot fig. It was everywhere.

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They look pretty, but are deemed ‘pernicious’.

Sadly, my son with a much better camera than mine never got a chough, but he did pretty well with a hovering kestrel.

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Lizard is beautiful. I love going there. You won’t be the only person there, but it is not too trippery or commercialised.