wildlife,  NATURE,  Environment,  PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS



Chough 20



Project Chough




Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax



Choughs, or more correctly red-billed choughs, are not only iconic birds but are rare in the UK and many parts of Europe. They are usually confined to coastal environments along the west coast of Britain due to the realatively warm temperatures and often traditional farming methods.  Across Europe, the chough will often colonise inland environments where traditional farming methods can also be found.  These are often upland or mountainous regions where pastoral grazing is dominant, and hence lots of insects above and below the soil.





red billed chough 

Chough 04



 They are, therefore,  truly Celtic birds of mountain and coast in parts of the world I personally find the most beautiful.


 One such place is the Isle of Man.  A place I love. 

A small rugged island midway between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the centre of the British Isles with a history to match up to its location.


Over the years I have searched high and low for choughs around the island, usually getting just glimpses or the sound of the bird as it disappears over cliff edges - the sound is an eponymous cackled "Chaw", presumably giving rise to its name.



Red Billed Chough

Chough 28 wing flick




The most famous location for the chough is the The Sound, a small sea passage between the mainland and and an outlier called the Calf of Man.  This southern tip of the Isle of Man is almost ancient in character dotted with numerous stone cirles, standing stones, burial mounds and even a living example of a crofters village - Craigneash.  The fields hereabouts are dotted with grazing animals and rich pasture, free of chemicals, just ripe for insects and the hungry chough.


Over the last few years the chough numbers seem to be slowly increasing, albeit still in low numbers of about 150 birds.  Fields can often be seen accommodating the birds numbering in the tens or even twenties of you're lucky. 

red billed chough

Chough 33 group




This latter number would appear to be the size of group most favoured by the chough, as any more would presumably lead to conflict and, I'm guessing, lack of food to satisfy everyone at a sitting. 



red billed chough

Chough 17




 Such groups appear mobile moving constantly between nesting sites, farmland and the coast.  It is this that males finding the choughs rewarding, and due to their very wary and intelligent behaviour, doubly satisfying to get anything like a close-up photograph.




red billed chough

Chough 15



The weather on the Isle of Man is often wet and windy, and for the photographer can present frustrations with light qualty and shutter speeds.

The photograph below shows a windy shingle beach with a few choughs flying along the seawall.  The wind is strong and the tide high, with clouds threatening rain behind.  A very typical view of the manx island and the red-billed choughs!





isle of man

Chough 51 landscaqpe




So my project continues with many shots still to be achieved.






red billed chough

Chough 38 portrait




I hope you like what I have so far, and I can't wait to keep you updated of any future images.




red billed chough

Chough 26



red billed chough

Chough 06 youngster


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