Alpine Chough – Alpendohle

Alpine Chough - Alpendohle, originally uploaded by floecky. The Alpine Chough, or Yellow-billed Chough, (Pyrrhocorax graculus) is a bird in the crow family, one of only two species in the genus Pyrrhocorax. Its two subspecies breed in high mountains from Spain east through southern Europe and North Africa to Central Asia, India and China, and it may nest at a higher altitude than any other bird. The eggs have adaptations to the thin atmosphere that improve oxygen take-up and reduce water loss. This bird has glossy black plumage, a yellow bill, red legs, and distinctive calls. It has a buoyant acrobatic flight with widely spread flight feathers. The Alpine Chough pairs for life and displays fidelity to its breeding site, which is usually a cave or crevice in a cliff face. It builds a lined stick nest and lays three to five brown-blotched whitish eggs. It feeds, usually in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey in summer and fruit in winter; it will readily approach tourist sites to find supplementary food. Although it is subject to predation and parasitism, and changes in agricultural practices have caused local population declines, this widespread and abundant species is not threatened globally. Climate change may present a long-term threat, by shifting the necessary alpine habitat to higher altitudes.

Cornish Chough

I've written about the choughs before (a detailed post about the red-billed chough, also known as the cornish chough here and The Cornish Chough poem by John Harris here) but I want to share with you these amazing photos by Andrew Green (http://www.flickr.com/photos/polandeze/).
Photo Source: Andrew Green
 
Photo Source: Andrew Green
 
Photo Source: Andrew Green
 
Photo Source: Andrew Green
 
Photo Source: Andrew Green

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

The Red-billed Chough is a popular bird in the corvidae family.

Pyrrhocorax_pyrrhocorax_-standing-8

The Red-billed Chough or Chough (pronounced chuff), Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, is a bird in the crow family; it is one of only two species in the genus Pyrrhocorax. Its eight subspecies breed on mountains and coastal cliffs from Ireland and Great Britain east through southern Europe and North Africa to Central Asia, India and China. This bird has glossy black plumage, a long curved red bill, red legs, and a loud, ringing call. It has a buoyant acrobatic flight with widely spread primaries. The Red-billed Chough pairs for life and displays fidelity to its breeding site, which is usually a cave or crevice in a cliff face. It builds a wool-lined stick nest and lays three eggs. It feeds, often in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey. Although it is subject to predation and parasitism, the main threat to this species is changes in agricultural practices, which have led to population decline and range fragmentation in Europe; however, it is not threatened globally. The Red-billed Chough, which derived its common name from the Jackdaw, was formerly associated with fire-raising, and has links with Saint Thomas Becket and the county of Cornwall. The Red-billed Chough has been depicted on postage stamps of a few countries, including the Isle of Man, with four different stamps, and The Gambia where the bird does not occur.

The Cornish Chough (poem) by John Harris

THE CORNISH CHOUGH. WHERE not a sound is heard But the white waves, O bird, And slippery rocks fling back the vanquish'd sea, Thou soarest in thy pride, Not heeding storm or tide; In Freedom's temple nothing is more free. 'T is pleasant by this stone, Sea-wash'd and weed-o'ergrown, With Solitude and Silence at my side, To list the solemn roar Of ocean on the shore, And up the beetling cliff to see thee glide. Though harsh thy earnest cry. On crag, or shooting high Above the tumult of this dusty sphere, Thou tellest of the steep Where Peace and Quiet sleep, And noisy man but rarely visits here. For this I love thee, bird. And feel my pulses stirr'd To see thee grandly on the high air ride, Or float along the land, Or drop upon the sand, Or perch within the gully's frowning side. Thou bringest the sweet thought Of some straw-cover'd cot, On the lone moor beside the bubbling well, Where cluster wife and child, And bees hum o'er the wild: In this seclusion it were joy to dwell. Will such a quiet bower Be ever more my dower In this rough region of perpetual strife? I like a bird from home Forward and backward roam; But there is rest beneath the Tree of Life. In this dark world of din, Of selfishness and sin, Help me, dear Saviour, on Thy love to rest; That, having cross'd life's sea, My shatter'd bark may be Moor'd safely in the haven of the blest. The Muse at this sweet hour Hies with me to my bower Among the heather of my native hill; The rude rock-hedges here And mossy turf, how dear! What gushing song! how fresh the moors and still! No spot of earth like thee, So full of heaven to me, O hill of rock, piled to the passing cloud! Good spirits in their flight Upon thy crags alight, And leave a glory where they brightly bow'd. I well remember now, In boy-days on thy brow, When first my lyre among thy larks I found, Stealing from mother's side Out on the common wide, Strange Druid footfalls seem'd to echo round. Dark Cornish chough, for thee My shred of minstrelsy I carol at this meditative hour, Linking thee with my reed, Grey moor and grassy mead, Dear carn and cottage, heathy bank and bower. (Poem by John Harris)