Posted: 2017-12-07 15:10
A small flock of kittiwakes has been seen at the marshes on Rainham RSPB reserve to the east of London. This is very unusual, because kittiwakes do not often come flying inland, and then it is single birds that are generally seen. They are small, attractive gulls. They are very white-looking, fly gracefully with quick wing-beats and have a dark eye that gives them a gentle look. They get their name from their “kitti-waak” call. They nest all round the coast on cliffs, and sometimes on buildings, including some pairs (that are not greatly liked by many of the citizens) along the Tyne in Newcastle. However, their numbers have fallen disastrously in recent years, mainly due to a dearth of sand eels, on which they feed their chicks. This appears to have been caused partly by global warming, which has affected the distribution of sand eels, and partly by overfishing.