A national survey to assess the population of one of the UK’s rarest birds, the chough, is being launched by conservationists.
The study aims to give a picture of how the birds are faring across the UK after years of decline. In Scotland, choughs are only found in a small area of the south-west, with 90% concentrated on Islay, where numbers have struggled.
A team of surveyors has now begun work to chart the fortunes of the “acrobatic” birds, known for their striking red bill and legs and flamboyant flying style.
Researchers are particularly concerned about the survival rates of young birds in their first year. It is thought that variations in weather and food abundance could be having an impact on the survival rates. Information gathered will help target conservation efforts for the recovery of the species in areas where it is in decline.
The survey is a joint initiative between RSPB, SNH and the Scottish Chough Study Group, which has been monitoring the birds on Islay since the early 1980s.