Skomer Bonus Post- Well Choughed with a visit to St Govans


As promised in my earlier blog here is another blog post documenting a trip to St Govan's, Pembrokeshire.

The Three Amigos had such a good time on the final day of their adventures in Pembrokeshire that the visit to St Govan's really did warrant its own blog post.

Skomer Bonus Post - Well Choughed with a visit to St Govan's.

An adult Chough.

We have been to St Govan's previously and found it to be an incredibly picturesque place that is located on the coast near Bosherton Lily Ponds and Broad Haven Beach.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Information Signs

On the last occasion, we visited it was very good for spotting Choughs so we were all eager to try our luck and see if we could get some nice photographs.

Choughs (Pyrrhocorax Pyrrhocorx) are one of my favourite species of Crows ( Corvids). They are very acrobatic in the air and have very distinctive "fingered" wing tips which make them stand out compared to other crows but their most distinguishing visual features are their curved red-coloured bills and feet. Choughs have every unique call that sounds like "kyaa" and "kyeow". These birds are often found in pairs and they tend to constantly call each other using these contact calls.

At this time of year, the adults are very likely to have had young that have fledged and you will often see small family flocks of Choughs feeding together on grassy areas of the clifftops.

En route to St Govan's, we had a pitstop at the  Ye Olde Worlde Cafe Bosherton and enjoyed some cream scones. Very yummy and I would highly recommend it.

"The Three Amigos"

When the "Three Amigos" arrived we initially visited the small chapel and said a few prayers. I thanked God that Nicola and I had been blessed with Nikon Cameras and I wished that St Govans deliver Paul from the evil of Canon. No one seems to be listening however as Mr Joy continues to walk in the wilderness.

St Govans Chapel

Jesting aside, the Chapel is a lovely place and very recently since our visit his royal highness Prince Charles also graced St Govans with his presence and I am sure he would have been very impressed with it.

After our moment of peace and retrospection in a place of his holiness, it was time to go searching for some birds.

Paul and Nicola decided to use a technique of finding a location where the Choughs were frequenting most often and then sit up and wait for them to turn up. I instead went for a walk in a different direction determined to follow in the direction I had seen a small flock fly and then stealthily creep up on them.

The family of Choughs

The Amigos split in different directions and each of us hoped we would have a little luck on our side. Fortunately, the birding Gods were looking down at us all with favour.

I headed Westwards along the cliffs and soon found my little flock of Choughs. Two adults and a juvenile were busy feedings on a grassy slope that was part of the cliff face. I slowly approached them, keeping a low profile. They have very keen eyesight and I know they could see me clearly despite my best efforts and at trying to look invisible. 

Choughs are like the Acrobats of the bird world and just seem to be able to tumble effortlessly

They constantly called to each other and then all of a sudden would float up into the air changing direction in an instant and fly on a little further or do a full circle of me before landing again. Eventually, they got used to me and became very accommodating. They were quite happy for me to sit on the cliff with my feet dangling watching them a little lower down the cliff on a grassy slope. I could not want a better backdrop. The sea was a beautiful turquoise and the grassy slope and gorgeous pink thrift growing on it.

They call to each other continually

The juvenile Chough. The beak is shorter and has some yellowy/orange in it.

I think they were calling to me in the end!

It was great to see the family of Choughs just settle down and do their own thing. I know they kept a close eye on me at all times but they seemed to be relaxed and even when they took flight they would repeatedly return to the same area of the grassy clifftop.

The juvenile would call continually to its parents begging to be fed and every now another flock of Choughs would turn up and greet the other Choughs as they flew past.

The primary wing feathers are like fingers and very distinctive.

At one point two of the adults landed a couple of meters away from me and seemed to have accepted me as part of the scenery. They were almost too close to photograph.

I recorded some video footage of them and when I next get the opportunity I will post some videos on my  YouTube Feed.

Close up they are very beautiful birds. As is the case for the majority of Covids, whilst the plumage looks black from a distance the feathers actually have an "oil" like sheen and in the right light, you can see Purples, Blues and Greens.

Close-up and personal

The plumage has lots of different hues when observed in good light.

Watching the choughs really chilled me out. The weather had turned fantastic, there was a lovely cooling sea breeze and the only company I had was these fascinating Corvids.

I then remembered my friends! I noticed several missed calls on my phone and they had been trying to get hold of me. They too had been very successful and found a spot on the eastern side of the Chapel where the Choughs were frequenting to feed in the sandy soil.

When I finally found Paul and Nicola they were like a pair of commandoes lying on their stomachs like snipers. They had big smiles which is always a good sight. Both were well "chuffed "that they had also got some great photographs of the enigmatic crow stars of St Govans.

My view from the clifftop.

St Govans had once again been a great place to visit and to be honest whilst we were disappointed we did not make it to Grassholm to see the Gannetry by the end of our third day any feelings of being disappointed had more or less vanished.

Once again the Three Amigos had enjoyed a thrilling trip to Pembrokeshire. It really is a  fabulous part of the bird to go birding with your mates :)


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