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Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) Explored

One of earliest memories of being interested in wildlife was a family trip as a boy to the world famous Giant's Causeway. My interest in the rocks was short lived when nearby I spotted these unusual black birds with red hooked beaks. I could wait to get home and look up what they were. Even then, though I didn't know it, the population of Chough was in steep decline. By the early eighties there were only 12 or so pairs and tens years later there were only 2 or 3 pairs. For period they were extinct as a breeding species in Northern Ireland before a pair from Scotland naturally recolonised. It remains extremely threatened here with less than 5 or 6 birds.

 

Interestingly though, less than an hours drive from the Northern Ireland border into County Donegal flocks of more than 40 birds can still be found - a magical sight and sound. Early this week I visited one of their strongholds in Donegal to get a few shots. I only hope I live to see them firmly re-established in North Antrim to relive those childhood memories.

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Taken on September 17, 2012