Earlier this season we had some sad news when the resident male chough ‘George’, who was quite a colourful character (LINK: http://the-lizard.org/index.php/article-archives/birds/640-farewell-george-an-unexpected-goodbye-starts-a-new-chapter-for-the-lizard-choughs ), vanished without a trace. After four weeks on her own, as the only chough left on The Lizard, Nora managed to attract a new mate. This was a surprise to us local volunteers as most of the choughs were, at that point, based in west Penwith and we didn’t expect any of them to move our way in time for this nesting season. But, as new breeding pairs began to establish out west it pushed some of the younger unpaired birds out and 3 young males came our way. We waited on tenterhooks, would they reach us?
Well, by early April they had reached us but their appearance coincided with the arrival of an unringed bird, who Nora quickly took a shine to! Being unringed we had no idea what sex or age the new bird was or even where it came from. Within a few days they began nest building and we watched courtship behaviour, so our suspicion was that the new bird was indeed a male. Although things were moving in the right direction, there was still uncertainty over the outcome as choughs only become sexually mature between 2-4yrs of age, so Nora’s eggs might not be fertile but she would incubate them regardless.After weeks of waiting, watching and protecting the nest we were rewarded with the most exciting news this week. The choughs appeared from the cave to dispose of two ‘hatched’ eggshells, and are now making regular trips to and from their cave to feed their chicks. Although we suspect there are at least two chicks in the nest, we won’t know for sure until the BTO bird ringer comes to put their unique rings on, and after that it will still be a while before they fledge. We are over the moon to see the Lizard choughs get this far this season and wish them well for the next stage; as the parent birds have a lot of work to do before their chicks take to the skies. To find out more: visit the wildlife watchpoint at Lizard Point.
Published: May 2016Author: Catherine Lee – Community Volunteering Ranger
Photographs: Courtesy of C.Lee. Copyright National Trust