Choughed to bits to walk the coastal path at Southerndown.


Chough ( Prrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

The clifftop walk leads from Southerndown to Dunraven Bay has always been a favorite of mine. The panoramic views of the sea are fantastic and I love to just sit up, relax and watch the world go by. The location is also a hot spot for some great species of birds.

Looking down the Heritage Coast from Dunraven Bay ( Drone pic)

The area is home to at least one pair of Choughs. Nearly every time I have walked here I have been lucky enough to see one of these enigmatic and rare species of Corvids.  I am usually alerted to their presence by their distinctive call overhead before I see them and then they appear in the sky. Choughs often put on quite an aerobatic display swooping and tumbling with incredible agility on the updrafts of wind from the cliffs.

On this occasion, as I sat down admiring the view from the clifftops and started to take a drink I heard the distinctive "kyeow" call to my left. I looked across and as if by magic a pair of Choughs descended from the sky and started feeding about ten meters away from me.

Chough at Southerndown

The Choughs were foraging in sheep droppings looking for insects to eat. They were very accommodating as long as I just sat there and watched them. I was able to get my camera's lens trained on them long enough to take some nice photos and video.

As I made a video recording of one of the Choughs feeding I could hear in the background the call of a Peregrine Falcon. It sounded like it was in dispute with another falcon.

I turned my attention to where the noise racket was coming from and as I did so an Adult Peregrine Falcon flew from the cliff just below head height. It was carrying its prey in its talons and screaming back at another bird which if I am honest just not really too sure what it is. The second bird looks like either a Sparrowhawk or a juvenile Peregrine.

Peregrine Falcon with its prey    

Being chased by a Sparrowhawk?

The two birds of prey sped out of view in seconds never to be seen again. What an amazing five minutes or so that was, with two rare species turning up and giving me a show to remember.

I continued on along the clifftop path and headed to Dunraven Bay. Whilst walking down the path towards the beach the habitat consists of a large spread of gorse bushes alongside the road. The gorse has always been home to Stonechats and within a few minutes of passing the gorse I picked up the calls of a pair of Stonechats. Eventually, I caught sight of the pair perched up on the gorse bushes. There was also a juvenile keeping them company.

Dunraven Bay remains a very picturesque beach and seeing it brought back a lot of good memories about when I have visited with the family, played on the beach, and swam in the sea.

I crossed the brook, avoiding stepping on Common Darter Dragonflies, and walked up to the top of the hill that overlooks both the bay and also in the opposite direction there is a tremendous view towards Nashpoint.

As there was very little wind I seized the opportunity to put the drone up. The view from above was absolutely stunning.

Looking across to Nash Point

Dunraven Bay

The Beach

On my return along the Heritage Coastal path, I was lucky to see the Choughs on a second occasion. This time they seemed to follow me along the clifftops whilst dancing on the warm updrafts from the cliffs. I was able to take a few pictures of them in flight.

 A Chough calls

The Choughs call constantly to each other

A Chough flypast

When I eventually stopped for a breather, they stopped too and both landed about twenty meters away from me and began to feed again.

Eventually, they got disturbed by one of the many dog walkers and the crows were off again soaring above the edges of the cliffs. I watched them for a while as they flew ahead of me until I arrived back at my car. 

A great way to finish off a lovely walk and I was choughed to bits with my photos :)


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