British Wildlife & Conservation Day at the Screech Owl Sanctuary

On the 30th of September Screech Owl Sanctuary will be hosting their annual Wildlife day and will be joined by a range of local wildlife groups for a unique opportunity (at no extra cost to entry) to learn more about British Wildlife & Conservation.

Some of the groups attending on the day include:

• Cornwall Birdwatching & Preservation Society
• British Trust for Ornithology – Ringing Group
• British Trust for Ornithology – Cornwall
• Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust
• British Divers Marine Life Rescue
• National Lobster Hatchery
• Cornwall Butterfly Conservation
• Cornwall Reptile & Amphibian Group
• Cornwall Bat Group

There will also be a quiz, pond dipping and face painting as well as many other activities to get involved with.

There will also be a reduced entry fee on the day of £8 per person (for any aged 3 years and over)

Middle Amble Closure

The access track to Middle Amble will be closed week commencing 4th September 2023. This is to enable essential maintenance work.
A drainage pipe will be laid alongside the track and resurfacing will reduce the risk of flooding. Furthermore a stock holding pen will be built in preparation for adding grazing cattle next year.
The track will be closed for approximately a week to 10 days during which time it will not be possible to visit the hide.

Access to Middle Amble Reserve

There is no access into the reserve. However, there is a hide overlooking the site enabling good views. It is a marsh and can be very wet and muddy so Wellington boots are highly recommended. We are planning to “pipe” the stream in the lane in September and the path and hide will be closed for approximately a week. Please park in the main car park in Chapel Amble village, PL27 6EU and not by the cemetery.

From the car park go through the village with the pub & post office on your right and take the left turn signposted Lower Amble. Go past the bungalows on your left and then the cemetery on the right. There is a straight section of road with elms on both sides, towards a long white cottage. Take the footpath on the left just as you approach the cottage. At the bottom of the lane go through the 5-bar gate and follow the track around to your right. You will see the hide about 75 metres away. The door key code to the hide can be found on the members page of the website.

Bird Books for sale

Mike Spicer and Pete Clement are in the process of disposing of the late Bob Hibbett’s book collection on behalf of his widow, Ros. Books are mainly in excellent condition and, whilst mainly on birds, there are several on flowers and insects. For a copy of the complete list, please email [email protected]. All reasonable offers will be considered. 100% of the proceeds will go to his widow.

Thanks in advance,

Marsh Harriers successfully breed at Walmsley Reserve

Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) are delighted to announce that a pair of Marsh Harriers have successfully bred on our Walmsley Sanctuary reserve; raising three young which fledged this weekend.

There are very few breeding records of this species in the county, and this is the first in North Cornwall. It is a sure sign that the careful habitat management carried out by reserve warden, Adrian Langdon, his dedicated team of volunteers and our partners at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are paying off and we would like to thank them for all of their hard work.

We would also like to thank our members and Walmsley visitors for their understanding whilst we withheld records of these marvellous raptors during the summer months in a bid to minimise disturbance and other negative factors whilst they settled and nested. It is greatly appreciated!

If you would like to visit the reserve to watch the Marsh Harriers, please do so from our tower hide. They are sure to do some wonderfully close fly-bys and will be free from disturbance from here.

Record-breaking year for Cornish Choughs

Alongside many partners, we are thrilled to announce that Cornwall’s Chough population has had a record-breaking year, with 39 breeding pairs fledging over 100 young. This is a 60% increase in the number of fledged chicks compared to last year and a real milestone for a bird that was once extinct in Cornwall, but even greater against a backdrop of decreasing Chough populations elsewhere in the UK.

Cornish Chough Breeding figures 2021-23:

  • 2021 – 23 successful pairs fledged 66 young
  • 2022 – 25 successful pairs fledged 71 young
  • 2023 – 39 successful pairs fledged 112 young

Choughs, Peter Crumpler

After more than 20 years of conservation efforts to bring them back to their Cornish home, Cornwall’s Choughs are now well on their way to becoming a healthy and resilient population. Choughs are spreading around the Cornish coast with a pair breeding on the Roseland again this year, which is the first time since 2016 (which was the first time in almost 200 years), and they are continuing to spread north of the Camel Estuary.

Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer, commented: “We want to thank everyone involved in surveying and providing the conditions for Choughs to flourish. It has taken a while, but finally the tide has turned for Choughs in Cornwall. One of the primary goals has been to re-establish a link between the Chough population in Wales and Britany, and this year brings us closer than ever to achieving that objective. By continuing to implement effective land management practices and safeguarding suitable nesting and roosting areas, we can ensure a bright future for Choughs in this region, while also witnessing their expansion along the coast into Devon and other areas beyond.”
Not all of this year’s young will survive to adulthood and raise families of their own, but the higher the number of fledglings that survive each year, the more robust the birds become against extinction in the future. Cornwall’s oldest Choughs continue to show the youngsters the way to do it, with the oldest, a male who is 18 years old, fledging five chicks with his mate for the third time in four years. And a pair breeding since 2011, which includes one of the oldest breeding females at 14 years old, doubled their fledglings this year with four chicks.

It has taken decades of close partnership work to get Cornwall’s Choughs back to this positive result. From the conservation expertise of the RSPB, to the passion of Cornish nature-friendly farmers and land managers who have brought back grazing to the cliffs, the vital funding for this land management from Natural England, the coordination and cooperation of conservation organisations like National Trust, and the dedication of volunteers who monitor the birds, plus those that report the valuable sightings to Cornwall Birds (CWBPS), to make this a conservation success story.Kate Evans, National Trust Senior Visitor Experience Officer for West Cornwall, added: “’We are thrilled to be celebrating a nature conservation success in Cornwall, as numbers of Choughs go from strength to strength each year! It’s with great thanks to the dedicated volunteers who give their time to monitoring Choughs, helping us to build a picture as the population grows in number and range.”

Hilary Mitchell from Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) said: “We would like to thank everyone who has sent us their Chough sightings this year. It’s been an unbelievably successful breeding season. All the records we received by email and to our bird news website meant we could identify new nests for volunteers to monitor. It also made a big difference when chicks started to fledge with lots of reports of Chough families coming in. Keeping track of our Kernow Chough population has been a real challenge this year, but it’s a nice problem to have! To put it into context, in 2013 we only had five successful breeding pairs (fledging 14 chicks), compared to 2023 with 39 successful pairs and 112 chicks, numbers well beyond our wildest expectations.”

The next chapter of the Cornish Chough story is in everyone’s hands – if you see Choughs in Cornwall please email your sightings to [email protected]

Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) are keen to receive all records; some people have been lucky enough to see Choughs in their gardens so please let us know if you see this happening and what they are eating, so the team can find out how common this behaviour is.

Date for your Diary – Operation Seabird Marine Day

Date for your diary – Annual General Meeting followed by a fascinating presentation on Peregrine Falcons!

The eleventh AGM of the company limited by guarantee will be held at St Erme Community Centre, on Saturday 17th June at 5 pm. This will be followed by a break for refreshments (complimentary buffet and cash bar) giving the opportunity to meet the board of trustees, other members and informal discussion.

At 7pm Cornwall Birds are delighted to welcome our guest speakers Richard Sale and Steve Watson who will give a multimedia presentation on their recent book The Peregrine Falcon. Using brilliant new video footage and photographs, Steve and Richard will give a detailed insight into the contents of the book, including new information about this charismatic raptor.

Running to 528 pages, ‘The Peregrine Falcon’ is a very comprehensive book, covering all nineteen subspecies that occur across the world. There are 150 full colour photographs and 235 figures and tables. Signed copies of the book will be available at the talk at a special price!

The meeting is open to all members, but to estimate numbers for catering it would be helpful if those planning to attend the AGM could let the Acting Honorary Secretary, Nick Watmough know by either by Email ([email protected]) or Text/WhatsApp (07771 715735) in advance of the meeting.

Publicity Officer Vacancy

A vacancy has arisen for the post of Publicity Officer for the Society. This is a key officer role and a great opportunity to become involved with the running of Cornwall Birds, promoting it to a wide audience.

The Publicity Officer is expected to actively seek opportunities to publicise the Society and its activities, act as the first point of contact for media enquiries and assist with the planning of Society events.

  • Update the website with relevant society news as well as requests from other organizations that are relevant to our members.
  • Keep our social media pages and groups up to date with topical posts and where possible recruit volunteers to assist with this task.
  • Create opportunities for favourable publicity through the promotion of the Society’s activities; e.g. projects, surveys, field meetings and talks.
  • Deal with requests from the media and signpost them to the Board member best equipped to deal with the enquiry.
  • Assist with the planning and publicity of Society events, for example the AGM, indoor programme and online events.

The Publicity Officer may be a member of the Board of Trustees. It is possible that the social media content may become part of a job-share. 

Anyone interested might like first to contact the Chair or Vice-Chair for an informal chat about the role: Bruce Taggart (07704 550818), Pete Roseveare (07955 216836).

Applications detailing relevant experience should be sent to Nick Watmough ([email protected]). Closing date: 10th June 2023.

Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code

Following the recent news item on seabird disturbance we’ve received yet another report of a wildlife safari boat scattering a raft of auks off the north Cornwall coast.

Manx Shearwater – Adrian Langdon

It’s timely that DEFRA yesterday published a national Marine and Coastal Wildlife Code that provides comprehensive guidance to anyone watching wildlife around our shores.

Anyone witnessing boat disturbances are advised to photograph/ video and report the incident.