Choughs Coast


Choughs

Neil Oliver discovers the choughs which have recently returned to the Cornish coast.


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Transcript


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Welcome to the Cornish coast.

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The Lizard Peninsula.

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It's a remote place, and until 50 years ago, was home to a rare bird.

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These birds are still found on the Cornish coat of arms.

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But in the words of a Monty Python sketch, "They are no more.

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"They have gone to meet their maker."

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The Cornish chough has been rendered extinct.

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It has ceased to be.

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It is not pining...or is it?

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There's been a resurrection.

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Claire Mucklow from the RSPB explains.

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-Nice to meet you.

-You, too. So, they're back!

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Definitely. I've just seen one. You missed it.

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-The female just went into the cave.

-So how come?

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-How's it happened?

-They've been extinct in Cornwall for over 50 years,

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so they're back now and breeding.

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Possibly, they've come from Brittany,

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but it's a natural re-colonisation.

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That's the fantastic thing about this story, it's not a reintroduction,

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which has happened with kites and sea eagles in other parts of the country.

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-They've come back naturally, on their own.

-Fantastic.

-Amazing.

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-Any sign?

-Er...just, yeah.

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-Just remember...

-Where? Where?

-The cave with the arch...

-Yeah.

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-That dark arch.

-Yeah.

-There's a little slope there.

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It's just perched. Quite difficult to see at the moment.

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-Can you see?

-Yes.

-Just in the corner.

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-Got ya! How did they come by the name?

-We don't really know.

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When they call, they make a sound which sounds like "choww", so...

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-That sort of Italian theme going on.

-No...maybe.

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BIRD CALLS

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She spends a lot of time looking after her feathers,

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because she's been sitting.

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-The chicks are still quite young, so...

-Well, she's an Italian woman.

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No, she's not! No, she's Cornish!

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The grass is nice and short here! Ciao!

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THEY LAUGH I think it's my dodgy impression.

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-Ciao!

-THEY LAUGH

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Mike and Alex Lord, and their dog, William,

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were the first to discover the choughs in 2002

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and are now part of a loyal group called Choughwatch.

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-Hello!

-Hello!

-Hi.

-What is Choughwatch?

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Choughwatch is protecting the birds,

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from possible egg collectors,

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24 hours a day, that's night and day,

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and we have a fantastic band of loyal, wonderful, keen bird watchers

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who will do it.

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The RSPB put different coloured rings on the new choughs,

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so they can keep track of their movements.

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It's given rise to an interesting roll call.

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First year might name them after cricketers.

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The first one out was white over green, so he became WG.

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The second was brown over lime, so he became Brian Lara, and so on.

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I regard them as my sort of grandchildren, grandchoughs, really!

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But why have they come back?

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Farmers in the 19th century used to graze their cattle on the cliff side, keeping the vegetation short.

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But then it became easier and more convenient to graze inland.

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Choughs need access to very short grass.

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They can't feed in scrub.

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So choughs are choosy.

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I suppose they are, that's a good way of putting it. They're specialists.

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So over the last 10, 20 years,

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they've been putting animals back on the cliffs - ponies, cattle,

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some sheep - just to try and get all that scrub bashed back, really.

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It's worked! They're here! SHE LAUGHS

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These aren't just any choughs, these are Cornish choughs!

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-In Cornwall!

-That they are, indeed!

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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