Neil Oliver discovers the choughs which have recently returned to the Cornish coast.
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Welcome to the Cornish coast.
The Lizard Peninsula.
It's a remote place, and until 50 years ago, was home to a rare bird.
These birds are still found on the Cornish coat of arms.
But in the words of a Monty Python sketch, "They are no more.
"They have gone to meet their maker."
The Cornish chough has been rendered extinct.
It has ceased to be.
It is not pining...or is it?
There's been a resurrection.
Claire Mucklow from the RSPB explains.
-Nice to meet you.
-You, too. So, they're back!
Definitely. I've just seen one. You missed it.
-The female just went into the cave.
-So how come?
-How's it happened?
-They've been extinct in Cornwall for over 50 years,
so they're back now and breeding.
Possibly, they've come from Brittany,
but it's a natural re-colonisation.
That's the fantastic thing about this story, it's not a reintroduction,
which has happened with kites and sea eagles in other parts of the country.
-They've come back naturally, on their own.
-The cave with the arch...
-That dark arch.
-There's a little slope there.
It's just perched. Quite difficult to see at the moment.
-Can you see?
-Just in the corner.
-Got ya! How did they come by the name?
-We don't really know.
When they call, they make a sound which sounds like "choww", so...
-That sort of Italian theme going on.
She spends a lot of time looking after her feathers,
because she's been sitting.
-The chicks are still quite young, so...
-Well, she's an Italian woman.
No, she's not! No, she's Cornish!
The grass is nice and short here! Ciao!
THEY LAUGH I think it's my dodgy impression.
Mike and Alex Lord, and their dog, William,
were the first to discover the choughs in 2002
and are now part of a loyal group called Choughwatch.
-What is Choughwatch?
Choughwatch is protecting the birds,
from possible egg collectors,
24 hours a day, that's night and day,
and we have a fantastic band of loyal, wonderful, keen bird watchers
who will do it.
The RSPB put different coloured rings on the new choughs,
so they can keep track of their movements.
It's given rise to an interesting roll call.
First year might name them after cricketers.
The first one out was white over green, so he became WG.
The second was brown over lime, so he became Brian Lara, and so on.
I regard them as my sort of grandchildren, grandchoughs, really!
But why have they come back?
Farmers in the 19th century used to graze their cattle on the cliff side, keeping the vegetation short.
But then it became easier and more convenient to graze inland.
Choughs need access to very short grass.
They can't feed in scrub.
So choughs are choosy.
I suppose they are, that's a good way of putting it. They're specialists.
So over the last 10, 20 years,
they've been putting animals back on the cliffs - ponies, cattle,
some sheep - just to try and get all that scrub bashed back, really.
It's worked! They're here! SHE LAUGHS
These aren't just any choughs, these are Cornish choughs!
-That they are, indeed!
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