that time of year again; choughs are fledging all over the place. Having been
watching various breeding pairs since the spring, we will soon discover how
successful their breeding season has been.
This year it was evident that
choughs were attempting to breed in some additional locations. One of these being
at Tenby of all places. Steve Sutcliffe had observed some early season
behaviour which suggested something might be happening on the Tenby seafront. There
has been an increase in chough activity in the Tenby area in recent years,
including birds reported and photographed feeding on ants on garden lawns in
the summer (initially reported on the sightings blog a couple of years or so ago).
They had also been seen near the bandstand and flying along the Tenby seafront on
various occasions since then.
Having been intrigued by Steve’s observation this spring and
by earlier reports, Annie and I decided to have a closer look at what these
birds might be up to. Sure enough, they were present, and behaviour indicated
that they were breeding in a potentially suitable cliff crevice location. It has
been fascinating to watch them coming and going from the golf course (their
main feeding area), sometimes flying over the hotel roofs and circling around
the church spire alongside resident town feral pigeons and jackdaws.
This evening we were able to confirm that the Tenby pair has
now fledged (probably earlier today) a minimum of three young. The Rev. Murray Mathew, some years prior to his 1894 publication, The
Birds of Pembrokeshire and its islands, was aware that choughs had been common on
the coast “all the way
round from Tenby to St. David’s Head”. Whilst it is
possible that they have bred at Tenby in recent years, as far as we
know this is the first confirmed breeding by choughs there for possibly more than 100
years! If anyone has information of chough breeding success at Tenby in recent years, it would be nice to have more details.
Steve has mentioned that choughs are now much
more regularly seen feeding on the golf course than they used to be, and this area is undoubtedly an important feeding area for them. Due to the persisting
dry weather, much of the grassland there is currently very parched and
arid – it looks more like a desert. So it will be interesting to see how the chough
family party copes when the young start to move around to feeding areas with the adults before becoming independent. For now, they are sticking close to
their nest site crevice and the adults are still having to fly back and forth,
mainly from the golf course, to find food for them.