The numbers are in…

Auks on the cliffs at St Bees Head

The RSPB have just released the numbers of birds they’ve counted while surveying the cliffs at St Bees Head this year.

Razorbill and guillemot numbers have gone back up after a sharp decline last year.  This summer there were  171 razorbills counted on the cliffs and over 12000 guillemots – those numbers wont surprise any of you who’ve been up on St Bees Head and experienced the sight, sound and smell of the birds on a warm and sunny day!  This is great news for north west England’s only cliff-nesting seabird colony.

Seabirds nesting on the cliffs at St Bees Head, Whitehaven

Small numbers of puffin and black guillemot are also present but these species are much harder to see as they nest in more inaccessible places so you have to have a keen eye to spot them on the water.

After worrying years with low chick numbers in 2016 and 2018, 2019 looks to be a successful year for kittiwakes raising chicks with approximately 1 chick being raised per nest.

While the peak number of birds has now passed for the year there are still a some birds to be seen on the cliff ledges, and with views over to the Isle of Man on a good day it’s worth the trip.  Look out also for linnets, stonechats, whitethroats and rock pipits as they sing from the heath and gorse along the cliff-top.

Stonechats galore

Our Project Officer was out on the Colourful Coast last week and saw, and heard, a large number of stone chats along the way so decided to try and record their call.  It’s not the best video but if you put the sound up and listen carefully you’ll hear why these little birds get their name.

The stonechat (latin name Saxicola rubicola) is a robin sized bird that are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often doing so on the tops of low bushes. As its name suggests, birds utter a sharp loud call that sound like two stones being tapped together.