Animals

Kittiwake (Poyser) by John Coulson

By John Coulson

Returning to its breeding websites within the spring after a wintry weather spent some distance out at sea, the Kittiwake is a well-recognized sight round the coasts of england and Europe. A light, medium-sized gull with a 'gentle' expression and brilliant yellow invoice, the Kittiwake has been the topic of behavioural learn because the past due Nineteen Fifties - one of many longest operating reports on this planet. during this Poyser Monograph, John Coulson summarises those a long time of analysis, revealing remarkable insights into the lifetime of those gulls, with wider implications for the behavioural ecology of all colonial birds. There are sections on lifestyles at sea, nest-site choice, breeding biology, feeding ecology, colony dynamics, moult, survivorship and conservation. This booklet is key for teachers engaged on colonial species, and is additionally of significant curiosity to birders who are looking to examine extra approximately those stylish cliff-dwelling birds.

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The kittiwakes stream along the coasts in flocks of up to fifty birds passing a few hundred metres offshore every few minutes. They are usually flying at a right angle to the strong wind and rather than flying in a steady line, they dive and rise in and out of troughs caused by the swell. The continuation of these movements eventually takes the birds away from strong cyclonic winds around atmospheric depressions. Much more will be known about how kittiwakes exist in oceans when position loggers are small enough to be employed on them without being an unacceptable load on the individuals concerned.

In Â�north-Â�east England, I have seen kittiwakes plunge diving for food within 300m of the shore on very few occasions over a 50-year period and it appears that most individuals are feeding 10–90km from their colonies. Apart from the protection offered by breeding on small islands, such sites also give the kittiwakes a greater amount of sea area from which to obtain their food, as the birds potentially can go in any direction to search for fish. Colonies on mainland coasts have only about half of this sea area available within their limited flying distance from the colony.

Doubts exist because the extent of breeding failure in the kittiwake does not appear to correlate with areas where fishing was most intense, and failures occurred in some areas where no known fishery existed within the feeding range of breeding kittiwakes. Further, no good correlation exists between the intensity of fishing in different years and the adverse effect on kittiwake breeding success. The evidence mainly relies on simple correlations with year, and this relationship could have other causes.

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