21 June 2002

Breeding success for wild Choughs

THE first wild Choughs to breed in Cornwall for over 50 years have reared three chicks.

Choughs have been occasionally seen in Cornwall in recent years, but they have not nested until this year.

The nest site is on a National Trust coastal farm under a Countryside Stewardship agreement which encouraged the tenant farmer to graze the cliff-top grassland with cattle and to grow spring cereals and leave stubbles over winter.

That a pair of Choughs have at last found the site attractive enough to settle and breed in is being hailed as a success for the five-way partnership between the farmer, DEFRA, the National Trust, English Nature and the RSPB.

DEFRA senior agri-environment adviser Peter Bowden said: "The key is getting the habitat right. The chough likes well-grazed low intensity grassland. It feeds among cattle dung pats and so grazing cattle are essential. And in winter it likes cereal stubbles where it can pick up insect larvae and weed seeds.

"Now weve got choughs nesting well be looking to tweak the Stewardship schemes to encourage them further." &#42