Written byGordon Calder
THE number of common guillemots at Dunnet Head has fallen by 45 per cent in the past 13 years.
That is the dramatic finding in a count which has been conducted by RSPB Scotland. It shows the number of gulliemots on the cliffs at Dunnet has dropped from 8,980 to just 4,880 since 2000 – a reduction of 45 per cent
Other species such as razorbills, puffins and kittiwakes are also struggling to cope with increasing challenges, including a lack of food and the effects of climate change.
The end-of-season counts which were carried out by the RSPB reveal similar drops in places such as Orkney and Ailsa Craig in the outer Firth of Clyde.
Common gulliemot numbers at Noup Cliffs in Orkney have gone down by 41 per cent while the figure at Ailsa Craig shows a decline of more than 27 per cent.
The downward trend has led to the RSPB warning some of Scotland’s seabird colonies could become extinct unless action is taken. The charity has called on the Scottish Government to act to protect the birds.
It argues that species like common guillemots, razorbills and puffins are struggling to find sand eels as they move northwards due to the effects of climate change.
"They are facing increasing challenges including a lack of food and the effects of climate change, leaving Scotland’s once bustling seabird ‘cities’ in danger of falling silent," said Allan Whyte, the marine policy officer at RSPB Scotland.