Final call for kittiwakes on the Isles of Scilly? - Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust is encouraged by news that at least ten pairs of kittiwakes are showing signs of nesting on the island of Gugh, after an archipelago-wide absence of breeding attempts in 2021.

Gugh, which is attached at low-tide to the bigger island of St Agnes, has previously hosted several nests of kittiwakes, but last year there was a complete absence of nests from these special seabirds across the whole Isles of Scilly. Whilst the birds are showing signs of a more successful year in 2022, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust is clear that this is only a temporary reprieve, and many seabird species around the islands are showing a worrying downward trend.

The islands are home to breeding populations of thirteen seabird species, but overall, the number of pairs around Scilly have declined by 9.8% since 2006 and by nearly a third (31.5%) since 1983. Data from annual surveys shows that kittiwakes show the most concerning downward trend, with an 89% decline between 2006 and 2016. They are one of five species whose populations have fallen by more than a fifth in this time, including common terns, lesser black-backed gulls, herring gulls and shags.

Kittiwakes are a dainty species of gull, so named for their distinctive, nasal ‘kitti-wayke’ call. They have an elegant appearance, with a small yellow bill and a dark eye. In summer plumage, the wings are all-white apart from the very tips, which look they have been 'dipped in ink'.

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Posted On: 30/06/2022

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