The Kittiwakes at Noup Head are mesmerising. This one is a juvenile, flying freely, far above the sparkling sea below:
I love their distinctive plumage:
They nest on the narrow cliff ledges below. The parents are very smart, with their white heads and bright yellow bills:
It’s a long way down:
They are threatened by marine pollution and overfishing as well as climate destruction:
As the youngsters wheel below we see a Great Skua patrolling the cliffs up and down. I see it pluck a young Kittiwake out of the air and drag it to the sea below, pinions trailing.
Other Great Skuas join in and soon they have stripped the breast muscle from the carcass, which is floating with wings outstretched on the silver water below.
Their population in the UK has declined by 40% since the 1970s. It’s not Great Skuas which are to blame, though:
Atlantic Black-Legged Kittiwakes don’t have back toes on their feet. That’s very odd.
It’s been a pleasure to watch them. I hope there will be as many Kittiwakes here next year.
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