Chough (Red-Billed Chough)
Distribution Britain 88 (+12.8%) Ireland 168 (+1.8%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 340 Ireland 830
European status: 14,000 (8% in Britain and Ireland = 3=)
British population trend: possibly increasing in some areas
How likely are you to record it? 12 squares (0.3%) Ranked 145= [77=]
The Chough is primarily a bird of coastal cliffs and, by the end of the 19th century, had already gone missing from the Lothians, Berwickshire, Northumberland, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire (and Isle of Wight), Somerset, Anglesey, North-west England, the Western isles and much of the east coast of Ireland. In Ireland this decline carried on for another 25 years but was probably reversed about 1925 and an incomplete 1963 survey found less than 600 pairs, a better survey in 1982 logged up to 685 pairs (only 55 away from the coast). Even better coverage in 1992 showed the major concentrations were in Cork and Kerry (up to 600 pairs) and a possible maximum of over 900 pairs. In Scotland Islay has been the centre of the population for 100 years and three-quarters of about 80 pairs found in 1982 bred there. Since then the population has declined. In Wales the 1992 survey found about 150 pairs about 30% more than 30 years before and up to 187 were found in 1996 with increasing numbers inland. The birds are doing well on the Isle of Man 68 pairs in 1991. Changes to the cliff top ecology diminishing the close cropped sward where the Choughs can feed may quickly cause losses. These rare birds seem to be relatively safe but there is little sign of lost ground being regained at all quickly.
Berrow, S.D. et al. 1993 Irish Birds: 5, 1-10.
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead