Choughs at RhossiliThese choughs were photographed from inside the lookout by Frank Rott on 7th March 2010.  On two of them the coloured leg rings are visible.  Bob Haycock from the Countryside Council for Wales/Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru was able to identify them from ringing records.

Green/Red (Left); Red/BTO ring (Right) - was ringed as a nestling at a Gower nest-site in May 2004.  Since then there have been sightings on Gower in 2005 and 2006 and also at Ogmore in April 2006.

Blue/Red (Left); Red/BTO (Right) - was ringed as a nestling in South Pembrokeshire, also in May 2004. There were a number of re-sightings in 2005 and in winter 2005/06 in south Pembrokeshire. Then it was seen at Overton Cliff, Gower on 11th August 2007 and it was seen at Broughton Bay, Gower on 23rd October 2007.

Siân Musgrave, Head Warden for the National Trust, Gower, commented that the return of breeding choughs to Gower is a real success story.  At one time, the birds were so plentiful that they were sold in bunches of 'billycocks' at Swansea Market for food - difficult to imagine in this day and age.  The decline in numbers may have had something to do with this, together with a rise in the widespread use of pesticides across the country.

Choughs returned to Gower in the late 1990's and bred here in 2000 for the first time.  The first birds were in the Rhossili area where there was plenty of grazing on the cliffs, thanks to the commoners putting their stock out.  The birds bred successfully and the young were colour ringed, to enable us to track the success of the youngsters.

The next couple of years saw an increase in numbers and the birds investigating new areas.  They are now breeding successfully in at least two areas on the south Gower coast and using a variety of areas in between for roosting and feeding.

At Pennard, the commoners have worked closely with the National Trust in order to manage the cliffs specifically to encourage and sustain the chough population.  The cattle are dosed with non ivermectin products and the bracken and scrub on the cliffs controlled to encourage cattle and sheep grazing.  This in turn provides dung, insects and short turf for the choughs and their young.

In the Rhossili area, there is little grazing on the cliffs at certain times of the year due to dog numbers. However, the turf remains short due to people pressure and rabbit grazing.  The choughs take advantage of this but also range widely and feed on other areas which are grazed, such as Rhossili Down and within the Vile field system.

The population remains stable and there are currently around 21 chough to be seen regularly on Gower.  They have also been seen taking a holiday across the water to Brean Down in Somerset, where 7 were photographed all with colour rings identifying them as Gower birds.