Freelance consultant for digital heritage

Cornish Choughs in West Cornwall

Two weeks ago I was in the St Just area for a week back in Cornwall, recharging my batteries – a much needed holiday. It’s such a beautiful area; moors, tors, megaliths, wooded valleys, azure seas, granite houses, amazing wildlife, and of course, Cornish choughs.

On our first day there Tehmina and I went for a walk down through the beautiful Cot Valley to Porth Nanven. The beauty of this place is breathtaking, especially when the sea appears between the valley walls

The Brisons, viewed down the Cot Valley

When we arrived at Porth Nanven, we experienced our first sighting of a pair of Cornish choughs in the wild. I managed to take a photo as one landed on the cliff, but without my zoom lens, the photo isn’t up to much. We were just in awe at having seen them. The following day we decided to follow the cliff path from St Just to Geevor. When we got to Botallack, we spotted another chough!

Cornish chough at Botallack

I still didn’t have my zoom lens with me, but you should be able to spot him in the photo above (click to see a larger version). How do I know he’s a he? There’s a yellow tag on his right leg. That evening we were chatting to a member of staff in a local pub and mentioned our sighting. As it happens, she happened to also be a volunteer who monitors choughs in the area – what luck!

A couple of days later, we went back to Porth Nanven. This time I had my zoom lens with me.

Cornish choughs in flight

A pair flew across the valley above us. It was a truly unforgettable sight, and I’m glad to have this photo as a reminder.

I am only used to seeing the Cornish chough as a heraldic device, so seeing them in real life, in Cornwall was unforgettable. I have four on my coat of arms (three ‘in the field’ and one on the crest). We are very lucky to have them once again in Cornwall, may they thrive once more!

Goskar coat of Arms
Goskar coat of Arms


4 responses to “Cornish Choughs in West Cornwall”

  1. Wendé Anne Maunder avatar
    Wendé Anne Maunder

    Hello Tom

    It was delightful for me to find this website as I too have just returned from a week in West Penwith – my very favourite place; we spend at least one week per year there, usually in the Spring but sometimes in the Autumn as well. Thank you so much for this.

    We also saw a pair of Choughs at Cot Valley, and we saw three (a pair plus one?), on the cliffs above Porth Chapel Bay – our favourite beach. What a thrill! I only have my mobi camera but I took one very fuzzy photo of a Chough on the cliff; it could be any corvid but I KNOW it was a Chough.

    We always breakfast at The Cook Book in St Just so we were able to eat well at the same time as perusing two booklets (unfortunately not for sale), about the return of the Cornish Chough. We were able to buy a lovely book: “CHATTER of CHOUGHS – An Anthology Celebrating the Return of Cornwall’s Legendary Bird”, Edited by Lucy Newlyn and illustrated by Lucy Wilkinson. There are some lovely poems and essays therein.

    I agree with all your comments about the St Just area: it has everything. We particularly love Carn Euny, the fougue(?) and beehive cairn, and Chapel Carn Euny whose well is the source of the Lamorna Stream (we always visit the beautiful wooded valley at Lamorna. The stone circles and megaliths, all the holy wells and ancient churches – especially St Levan at Porth Chapel – amazing pew ends, font and setting -, and the walk through wild flowers down to the beach from there. St Just and St Gulval Churches too are very special – all are magical – truly magical. On the way home we always stop at Temple Church, east Cornwall, and this year the graveyard was a mass of bluebells – breathtaking! (Forgive all the superlatives please).

    Blessings to the Cornish Choughs, and to you, Tom.


    1. Tom Goskar avatar
      Tom Goskar

      Thanks Wendé!

      It truly is a special place, and may it always remain so…

      1. Wendé Anne Maunder avatar
        Wendé Anne Maunder

        Don’t approve of the way the Cornish Hedges are being massacred. There are fewer wildflowers every year because they are always mown before they have a chance of seeding.


  2. Wendé Anne Maunder avatar
    Wendé Anne Maunder

    Sorry Tom, I’ve just repeated this, with trimmings below because I thought it had disappeared. I would delete the first one because the next one has more detail. DOH!