Said to be the guardian of King Arthur’s soul, the Chough has long been a bird of legend. 80% of the Chough’s UK population is in Wales, but in Scotland their range has significantly reduced and is now restricted to Islay and Colonsay. In this article James Robertson considers the best approach to conserve Chough populations, considering either a focus on appropriate habitat management or a more direct interventionist approach, as is being used in Scotland.
The path dips into a sandpit and then climbs a hummock. It is a blustery autumn day and I am walking through one of Europe’s largest sand-dune systems. Four red-billed black birds ride the wind, spitting out their evocative ‘chow’ calls. Seeing these birds is one of the privileges of living on Wales’ western seaboard.