Climbers asked to avoid disturbing choughs at Muckross Head, Donegal
Two members who went to climb at Muckross Head last weekend have asked Mountaineering Ireland to notify other climbers of a pair of choughs nesting in the middle of the crag. The presence of the climbers seemed to annoy the birds and was preventing them returning to the nest to feed their young. The climbers decided it was best to not to climb and to give the birds peace and space to feed their chicks.
Choughs are rare members of the crow family noted for their acrobatic antics, bright red legs and bill, and their sharp “chaaow” call. Choughs normally nest on ledges on sea cliffs, from April right through to mid-July. Although Ireland holds 60% of the northwest European chough population and Donegal remains a stronghold, the birds are under pressure from changes in land use and potentially from disturbance.
Mountaineering Ireland’s Access and Conservation Officer Helen Lawless praised the responsible action of the climbers who reported the nest and has asked other climbers to respect these beautiful birds. Climbers who experience a reaction from choughs or other nesting birds are asked to withdraw promptly so as to allow the birds to breed successfully.