For the first time since their return, Cornish choughs have been spotted at Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserves.

The daily sightings have taken place at Penwith's inland reserves, Bartinney and Bostraze.

It marks a significant milestone since the birds' reappearance in 2001.

Following their total extinction during mid-20th century, the endangered choughs have been the focus of dedicated conservation efforts to restore their habitats and boost their numbers.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s West Cornwall reserves manager, Nick Marriott said: "For choughs to be coming inland to our reserves is a first – and really exciting, as it reflects the richness of our nature reserves for wildlife."

He further described how the choughs, part of the crow family, have found their food supply in grasslands rich in dung beetles, showing the importance of conservation grazing.

He added: "We practice conservation grazing, which is the use of livestock where the primary objective is to manage a site for wildlife, meaning the cattle are free to roam and have a natural diet free from wormers, which enables the dung beetles to thrive."

Falmouth Packet:

The restoration of short-grazed habitats has been a significant aspect of the birds' comeback story.

Hilary Mitchell, the chough project coordinator for Cornwall Birds, added: "The return of chough to Cornwall represents an amazing conservation success, with the population now well over 200 birds and record 112 chicks fledging in 2023."

She also highlighted how the feeding areas at the Wildlife Trust reserves have supported the birds in raising their chicks and maintaining a healthy population through the winter.

Falmouth Packet: The daily sightings have taken place at Penwith's inland reserves, Bartinney and Bostraze

Both Bartinney and Bostraze reserves, acquired by Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 2014, have been restored into wildlife-rich habitats where the cows' organic diet maintains a proliferation of dung beetles and fly larvae for the choughs to feast on.

Nick Marriott noted: "The public are welcome to visit Bostraze and Bartinney all year round.

"They are sanctuaries for ground-nesting birds and reptiles.

"Therefore, we ask that dogs are kept on leads to minimise disturbance."

Experts hope that the ongoing land management will ensure that locals continue to enjoy increased sightings of the beloved choughs.