Choughs can be seen year round in Cornwall. In winter look for a ‘chattering’ a group of mixed age birds, mostly non breeders, but also from time to time the breeding pairs join in too. In spring the pairs keep to their territories, whilst unpaired birds roam the cliffs feeding and gaining experience. July and August is a fantastic time of year to see choughs as there will be several family groups roaming the cliffs of the Lizard and Penwith peninsulas.
Top tips for where to go.
A circular walk from Botallack to Cape Cornwall is a very good bet to catch up with some of the choughs in west Penwith, also a walk north from Botallack towards Pendeen is worth trying too, and a great walk to see some of Cornwall’s iconic mining heritage.
For a longer walk, why not set off from Sennen and walk to Land’s End, or to really stretch your legs go further on to Gwennap Head and take in the stunning granite cliffs and spectacular views of this part of Penwith. Call in at the National Trust hut at Mayon Cliff, or the RSPB Land’s End Discovery hut for the latest chough news.
A walk between Southerly Point at the tip of the Lizard peninsula to Kynance Cove is a good start. If you don’t feel like walking, you can always drive to Kynance along the toll road (parking fee at the car park for non National Trust members).
If you want a longer walk and to make a day of it why not go all the way to Mullion, keep to the coastal fringe and listen out for the choughs as you walk past Soap Cove, Vellan Head and Predannack cliffs. If you then walk up into Mullion village you can get a bus back to Lizard village. There are lots of short circular walks that you can make leaving from Lizard village too that take you past good chough watching spots.
Be a responsible chough watcher
Choughs are quite confiding birds. If you see choughs on your walk, do not deliberately approach them, just stand or sit quietly and they may even come closer giving you the best chance to enjoy these captivating crows. If you have a dog or dogs with you, please remember that wildlife, including choughs are vulnerable to disturbance and your dog could even surprise and kill a chough, especially a young bird. Please keep your dog on a lead where there are choughs around. If you are taking photographs, please don’t try to approach too closely and disturb them, the coastal footpath is a busy place and they should be allowed to feed undisturbed wherever possible.
Grazing animals help to keep vegetation along the coastal fields and cliffs more open and good for all sorts of wildlife, not just choughs. If you encounter cattle or ponies on your walk and you have a dog with you, your dog should be on a lead. Every year farmers lose valuable stock due to dogs being allowed to chase them. Do you know what your dog is doing if you can’t see it?
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A CHOUGH!
Some literature you might need for your walks: