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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 10:55 GMT
Birds get round-clock protection
Volunteers are watching the birds round the clock
The first choughs to breed in Cornwall for 50 years are nesting again.

The birds, a symbol of the county, are now to be made a tourist attraction in an attempt to protect them from illegal egg collectors.

The black-plumaged bird with red legs and a curving red beak, have made the Lizard peninsula their home.

They are preparing for a second batch of chicks after three hatched successfully last year.

Their chicks remain in the area and another chough has joined the family group.

More have been spotted in other parts of Cornwall and Devon.

Choughs feed mainly on soil-living insects and prefer short turf with a plentiful supply of dung
The black-plumed chough became a symbol of Cornwall because of its legendary link with King Arthur
It is said in Cornwall that his spirit entered the chough after his death, with the birds' red beak and feet signifying the blood of Arthur's battles
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Conservationists believe this could be the start of a sustainable colony, but the choughs' rarity makes them a tempting target for illegal egg collectors.

A team of 50 volunteers who are keeping a continual watch on the nest.

In the 19th Century there were more than 100 pairs in the county but the bird vanished after its food source dried up because of a decline in clifftop grazing and the use of pesticides.

Now conservationists believe this could be the start of another successful colony.

Claire Mucklow of the RSPB, said: "It is very encouraging. If they breed next year there will be more young.

"There are other birds in the area and if they join up that could be the start of a great future."

Last year, the choughs' location was kept secret to protect them.

The widespread interest means that is not possible this year, so the RSPB has decided to publicise the Lizard site.

The publicity policy has an added advantage.

From the beginning of next month, the RSPB is setting up binoculars, a telescope, and posting guides at Lizard point, so people can enjoy watching the choughs without disturbing them.

Rare choughs get VIP visit
08 Jul 02 |  England
Cornish emblem returns to nest
07 Feb 02 |  England

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