Choughs return to St Agnes

St Agnes Head cliffs

Like many of the coastal areas around Cornwall we’re lucky enough to be seeing more choughs along the cliffs around St Agnes.

They’ve been making the most of the caves and old mine buildings in the area to make their nests and raise their young. This has only been possible by us humans giving them space and admiring them from a sensible distance, sticking to the footpaths and keeping dogs on leads.

From a complete lack of birds in 1970s the first sightings again were at the turn of the century. By 2020 volunteer monitors recorded 14 pairs across Cornwall with over 40 young fledging. The quieter year will have helped them with the recovery and so now we ask visitors to carry on being mindful of these birds, and indeed all the wildlife that lives in the area.

St Agnes is a good place to stand back and watch nature and you may be lucky enough to see some choughs, with their striking red bill and legs, aerobatic flight and iconic ‘chee-ow’ call as they swoop around the headland and over the cliff tops.

Springtime is the chough breeding season, but we ask people to be respectful of these iconic birds all year round.

Here are some simple steps we can all take when we’re near choughs:

  • Do not deliberately approach choughs, instead stand or sit quietly to observe the birds at a distance or continue past without stopping, remaining calm and quiet
  • Be aware of panicked alarm calling and be prepared to move on and give them space
  • Dogs can disturb choughs, as well as other wildlife, please keep your dog under control
  • Choughs are protected as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, if you see a serious chough disturbance incident please report it to the police by calling 101
Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) line drawing
Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)