Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Thanks to the Kittiwakes!

Yesterday I complained that an aggressive Lapwing had foiled my ambition to takes some photos of a Little Ringed Plover. Today I had a totally different experience. I was walking along the cliff path from the Lighthouse towards Fan Bay when the loud cries of Kittiwakes took my attention. I'm not good at getting close to the edge of the cliffs, they are very high here and I don't think I'd bounce! I found a suitably easy place to look over and saw a group of Kittiwakes on the water just off shore. As I looked I suddenly realised I was not alone!

Just to my left as the cliffs curved round a young Peregrine was perched, almost at eye level. I backed away after taking a quick picture and tried to work out if I could get good views closer, without crawling right up to the cliff edge.

I did manage this and watched the bird for some time. You can tell it s a juvenile because the breast is streaked, rather than barred. This probably means that it was fledged last year as the post juvenile moult doesn't start until the March of the second calender year, but can take several months to complete.
click on picture for a screen sized image

It was quite settled while I watched but I think that when the camera was looking at it directly it must have appeared as if it was being watched by a giant eye.

After a shuffle it decided to move and I managed a couple of hurried pictures as it took to the air.

This slightly strange angle does show that although we are used to seeing the streamlined, pointed wings, they can be quite broad when it is taking off and using the uplift along the cliff face to give it lift.

Well what of the Kittiwakes? They were still down there and I could here several other small gatherings further along, noisily saying their name over and over. It would be good if this seabird had a good breeding season here. The numbers breeding along the cliffs has declined drastically over the last few years, but I'm not sure of the reason. Overall in the UK there may have been a decline of around 40% since 1940. It may be due to the worrying decline in fish stocks with a huge reduction in the number of sand-eels in the North Sea. I am not sure if this is due to the change in water temperature, due to global climate change (global warming) or the huge number taken by factory ships the turn into animal feed and fertiliser, or a mixture of both. What ever the cause we appear to be in the midst of an ecological disaster as far as sea-bird populations are concerned.


steve ashton said...

A great encounter with the Peregrine Tony, sorry about the original comment, a spelling mistake noticed.

Paul said...

Hi Tony, some very nice Peregrine shots there.

Gadget said...

Good set of Peregrine photos tony and nice to know that the Kittiwake's are still around i must call over soon,