Welcome to the first issue of the Carneddau Chough Network Newsletter in which you will find the latest information on chough sightings in the Carneddau mountain range.


Latest Sightings

This autumn, the weather in north Wales has been very temperamental. Despite the warm weather, there have been very few calm, sunny days. This has made planning walks looking for choughs extremely difficult. However, rewards were on offer if you were willing to take a chance on the weather.

At this time of year, young choughs are independent, and they typically disperse away from their parent’s breeding territory. These young birds congregate in flocks with one and two year olds, and occasionally local breeding pairs. In early autumn, there were large, sub-adult flocks congregating in the Carneddau. This included 16 on Moel Wnion and another 30 at the Abergwyngregyn Mountain Gate foraging on short, grazed pastureland. In addition to young birds from the Carneddau, there were juveniles within these flocks which had originated from nesting sites all over north Wales including the Great Orme, Snowdonia (Waun Fawr, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bethesda), north Anglesey and the Llŷn peninsula (Bardsey Island, Aberdaron, Tudweiliog and Trefor areas). The furthest travelled were three siblings hatched in a nest 92km away just north of Aberystwyth on the coast of Ceredigion, all seen in the Carneddau in September 2022, one of which has subsequently been seen at South Stack, Anglesey, in November, while another was recorded at Porth Neigwel, Cilan in December.

7 choughs foraging along a footpath on the Llanllechid Common in early September. There are four colour ringed choughs in this photograph. The colour ringing is part of a long-running study of choughs by Adrienne Stratford and Tony Cross in north and mid-Wales for the Cross and Stratford Welsh Chough Project. Each one has a metal ring and three colour rings of which one of them is inscribed. For example, left leg: blue inscribed C4 over red; right: brown over metal. Please continue to report your chough sightings and colour ring records from north and mid-Wales to Jack Slattery (jack.slattery@rspb.org.uk) and Adrienne Stratford (adrienne.stratford@btinternet.com).

The Carneddau sub-adult flocks appear to be dwindling in numbers as winter brings colder weather. Many have moved to the north-coast of the Llyn peninsula where they are foraging on soft cliffs and beaches between Trefor and Dinas Dinlle. Food is possibly more abundant here in late autumn and winter.


Vegetation Clearance

From September, the National Trust with the help of the Snowdonia Society have been running events with volunteers to clear gorse away from Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Carneddau. Roots of gorse and other vegetation, such as bracken, can undermine their integrity. Vegetation clearance also increases the area of suitable chough foraging habitat available as you can see the in the photograph below. At the moment, the focus is on a old settlement located above the Abergwyngregyn Mountain Gate. If you are interested in getting involved, please check out the events page on the Snowdonia Society website (https://www.snowdonia-society.org.uk/events/).

Anglesey Chough Count

On Saturday 28th January, the RSPB is holding its annual chough count on Anglesey. This involves walking a section of coastline and recording any choughs along the way. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Jack Slattery (jack.slattery@rspb.org.uk).