March 2014:climate change is causing a massive decline in kittiwake numbers in northern Scotland believe scientists with the risk of some colonies disappearing completely.
The latest figures show an 87 per cent decline in kittiwakes on Orkney and Shetland since 2000. The islands were once home to thriving cliff colonies of thousands of birds – but today many of these cliffs are virtually empty in the breeding season. Research indicates that sea temperature changes are affecting the availability of their key food source – sandeels.
Paul Walton, Head of Habitats and Species for RSPB Scotland, said: “Ten years ago Marwick Head on Orkney was a thriving seabird city – but now it looks like a ghost town. And it’s not just kittiwakes, guillemots have also halved in number. A few abandoned nests remain in the breeding season on some cliffs, which are now silent and empty, instead of alive with noise and activity as they were just a few years ago.