The Joy of Flying

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Choughs at Skellig Michael

Well, I have to admit that my favourite member of the Crow family is the Chough (pronounced chuff).

The experts could tell you more about them but suffice to say that Choughs are incredible fliers, they seem to soar and swoop for the sheer joy of it, they tumble across the sky, sometimes closing their wings just for fun, they can fly upside down, they can perform underfrunders, do the loop the loop… better than any airshow.

Consequently, they are difficult to photograph, especially if there’s a howling wind and you are clinging on for dear life to a rocky ledge (in the driving rain) – as is often the case on the West Kerry coast.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Chough, Kerry

But I was lucky enough to see them recently at Cill Rialaig.

There was several pairs and I often saw them feeding in the coastal fields (and heard them complaining loudly when they were disturbed). They have a distinctive call, sounding more exasperated or whiney than your average crow. Ah, I don’t blame them – I just love to watch them fly.

But I’m reminded of the first time I painted a Chough, way back in 2005 when I did some work on a book for O’Brien Celtic Gifts. You can see the little watercolour below. The book is still available, I believe.

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Chough

Birdwatch Ireland – Choughs

Cill Rialaig Arts Centre


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