Thursday, 9 July 2009

Kittiwake Trouble

Kittiwake cliff on Brownsman


A young Kittiwake nearly ready to fledge

Two small youngsters, still some weeks away from fledgling

Thursday 9th July comments:
It’s never easy for seabirds as theren is always something happening. This time our attention focuses back on the weather. The shipping forecast said it all…

Forth Tyne Dogger: NW 6-7 occasionally gale 8 increasing to severe gale force 9. Rough to very rough.

Ouch.

The north-north west gale started yesterday and it’s continued throughout today bringing huge seas and massive swell from the north. It resulted in no visitor boats sailing and therefore as a team, we're cut off (bad news for Tim who wanted to take a short break away from the islands). It also brings trouble. Although the majority of seabirds will escape this spell of poor weather, it’s not that simple for the nesting Kittiwakes.
Their strategy of nesting late this season and often far down the cliff faces, may prove their downfall. Kittiwakes have been in trouble on the Farnes and many other North Sea seabird colonies for the past decade and the last thing they need is another poor season. But, if their not careful, there going to get one. To date, the season has been good for them, as Kittiwakes have been finding plenty of Sandeels and raising healthy chicks and another two weeks of good weather would have seen a happy ending to a season. However the big seas and swell have started washing away nests, as single swipes from large waves lick the base of cliffs and smash nest and contents into the boiling sea. No mercy and nothing will stop the destruction unless the wind calms. We need calm weather otherwise we'll have another bad season for the Kittiwakes to report. Keep those fingers crossed.
Doom and gloom? Well not quite, the majority of cliffs have been protected as the wind is coming from the wrong direction to hurt us badly, but watch this space, we've still got a few crucial weeks to go...

Seawatching 8th July: Manx Shearwater 37N, Storm Petrel 1N at 21:00, Tufted Duck 1N, Arctic Skua 1S, Great Skua 2N and Little Gull 2 adult North

Seawatching 9th July: Manx Shearwater 18N, Tufted Duck 4N, Great Skua 1N

Others: Bar-tailed Godwit 6, Knot 47, Oystercatcher 127, Dunlin 8, Roseate Tern 6.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. I have been visiting the islands most years since I was 14 (I'm now 29) and try to time my visits to coincide with hatching auk chicks. Unfortunately I never get to see how things pan out so the blog provides a kind of life-line as it were. Thanks.