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Historic Cornish birds making 'amazing' comeback after surprise return to the county

Adult Cornish Choughs close to Lizard Point Photo: PA

A bird that features on Cornwall's coat of arms is making an "amazing" comeback after disappearing from the county in the 1970s.

The Cornish Chough made a surprising return from Ireland fifteen years ago, and the number of breeding pairs has now reached double figures.

Choughs in flight. Credit: Karl-Josef Hilenbrand/ PA

More than 100 volunteers will be keeping watch on the nests of potentially 12 breeding pairs this spring, as the chough slowly recovers its historic Cornish territory.

Among them will be Alix Lord, who was one of the very first people to see and hear a chough - a sight and sound that had been absent from Cornwall for three decades - when the birds first returned in 2001.

I was just so excited, we kept an eye on them and amazingly they settled. I would not expect now to walk the cliff and not hear a chough,

Their flight is fantastic. They are so glamorous. They are just wonderful birds. It's thanks to everybody's efforts we have kept such close tabs on them.

– Alix Lord
The chough is of great symbolic importance in Cornwall. Credit: cornwall.gov.uk

Claire Mucklow, who manages the RSPB's chough work, said: "It only seems like yesterday we were wondering if those first choughs would stay and if so would they breed, it makes me very proud to have been part of their amazing story over the last 15 years and see how support for the choughs has grown.

The chough is very rare in the UK Credit: PA

Where can I see a chough?

RSPB and National Trust staff will be watching nests on the north, south and west coasts.

The National Trust's watchpoint at the Lizard will be open as usual, with volunteers on hand to give visitors information about choughs and, with luck, show them the choughs in the area.

Walking the coast path on the Lizard or in West Penwith offers a good chance of seeing and hearing choughs - a flock was regularly seen flying around Botallack during the winter.