Species in Focus; Chough

chough pont cymru conservation grazing

Chough Vaughn Matthews

The chough is a member of the crow family, distinctive from others thanks to its red legs and beak. The chough has a slightly shyer nature than other crows. They can be seen from the Wales Coast Path performing aerial acrobatics and calling with their distinctive call.

The choughs preferred habitat is grazed cliffs and heathland. In past centuries, sheep, cattle and ponies would have grazed the cliffs all year round, keeping vegetation short and open, providing perfect conditions for chough to find a supply of insects such as cranefly larvae, dung beetles and ants [1]. As farming practices changed and cliff tops have been left ungrazed, the once open cliffs have succeeded to scrub. This meant a loss of feeding habitat and a decline in the range of choughs around Wales.

According to the RSPB,

As primarily invertebrate feeders, choughs need access to the soil and a mosaic of vegetation with lots of short and open areas in which to feed. Grazing is crucial in keeping coastal and upland habitats in good condition for choughs.

close shepherding conservation grazing coast jan sherry pont cymruThrough the Llyn Landscape Sustainable Management Scheme and National Trust Payment for Outcomes Scheme, PONT has been working to re-introduce grazing on to three areas of coastal belt. This will benefit chough by creating more feeding areas

Any queries on conservation grazing projects in Wales, get in contact with PONT Cymru. 

[1] RSPB

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