‘Shocking’ decline in Scots seabirds
A ONCE-thriving seabird is disappearing from Scotland’s coast, conservationists have warned.
The internationally important population of kittiwakes, one of the world’s most abundant seabirds, is declining at an alarming rate, according to RSPB Scotland.
Climate change is being blamed by the charity for affecting the marine food chain, where seabirds are at the top.
While numbers have more than halved since the mid-1980s across the UK, the Scottish breeding population has declined by almost two-thirds.
Orkney and Shetland are experiencing the steepest declines, where around a fifth of the UK population used to return to breed each year.
Alarmingly, one once-popular breeding colony at Mull Head, on the Orkney mainland, is now extinct of kittiwakes.
Counts by RSPB Scotland and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee of Orkney’s “seabird cities” revealed a staggering 82 per cent decline in breeding pairs of kittiwakes in just over a decade.
Populations on the Orkney mainland fell from nearly 11,000 pairs in 2000 to under 2,000 this year.
Doug Gilbert, RSPB Scotland’s head of reserves ecology, said: “The counts this year are deeply shocking, especially the loss of kittiwakes at Mull Head.
“To think of Orkney without thriving colonies of these fantastic birds is a sad prospect.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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