My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Scilly choughs

I did a quick trip to St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly last week with the missus. A bee-eater, which conveniently graced us with its presence while having lunch on the 16th of April was probably the highlight, but perhaps more intriguingly, I encountered a couple of chough.

I saw two associating with one another on Castella Down near Long Point about 4pm on Mon 14th Apr. One was the colour ringed bird in all of the photos below. I didn’t get a good view of the legs of the other, but didn't notice a ring on it when in flight. I saw both together so am sure there was two. The colour ringed bird remained on Castella until Tuesday – although at times it was quite mobile – I also saw it on Wingletang and I last saw it flying over to Annett.

I apologise for the quality of the photos – the bird was quite distant and I was shooting into quite strong light. I have attempted to crop a couple of the images and enhance them a bit, which seems to show that combination is blue over red on the right leg and black over a metal ring on the left leg. 

I originally thought that the ringed bird I saw originated from Cornwall, but a bit of detective work suggests a different story. Genetic analyses suggests that, although the original choughs to arrive back in in the south-west originated from southern Ireland, it seems that a Breton is on the loose. Have a look at the bird in this photograph: It is almost certainly the same bird as in the photo below. The bird was ringed as a nestling on the island of Oussant in 2007 and was resident there until at least 2011. It was then photographed at Baggy Point in North Devon back in February and was seen there again in mid-March. From there, it seems to have made it's way to North Cornwall, and evidently from there to the Isles of Scilly. This of course begs the question of where the other one came from? More excitingly perhaps,it does raise the prospect that Chough could appear on the Isles of Scilly as a breeding species!

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