Saturday, 2 July 2016

Bird of the week - Kittiwake

Kittiwakes spend most of their lives at sea but come to land to raise their young.  Last week I went to have a look at the famous colony nesting on and around the Tyne Bridge.  These birds were under threat from a planning application by a nearby hotel but fortunately Newcastle City Council rejected the application.  Let's hope their future is now secure.

The kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is also known as the black-legged kittiwake but, unlike the Geordie birds above, these birds I saw at Dunstanburgh Castle this week were definitely wearing brown boots (I ask yer... brahn boots!).

Kittiwakes are the most numerous gulls in the world and occur in great numbers in their colonies around the UK, with around a third of a million pairs here each summer.

Kittiwake numbers are not collected by BirdTrends but the population is monitored by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  Their numbers are declining and they are on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern.  

Thomas Bewick included the kittiwake in his History of British Birds vol. II published in 1832.

You can watch kittiwakes on the Baltic in Gateshead live on the Durham Wildlife Trust's Webcam here.  And watch a BTO video on identification of kittiwakes and other small gulls here.  Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on kittiwake here and to a recording of a kittiwake calling its name on the British Library website here.

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