Over the summer months the cliffs at Fowlsheugh become home to thousands and thousands of seabirds. Having spent the winter out in the Atlantic the razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and the odd puffin or two have returned to our shores to breed and it’s a sight not to be missed! The colony erupts into a feast for all the senses – there’s no mistaking the smell of a seabird city!

Our seabirds are having a tough time at the moment with warming waters pushing their main food sources further north where it’s cooler. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. After devastating crashes in the ‘90s and early ‘00s it would appear that the population of our kittiwakes are stabilising and numbers of razorbills and guillemots are on the increase!

These changes in population are monitored every year through annual census counts and kittiwake productivity surveys, however every three years the entire colony needs counting and this year is one of those years! If you’ve been down to Fowlsheugh over the last two weeks then chances are you’ve seen a member of the team harnessed up atop the cliffs with their binoculars glued to their face and a clicker counter in hand! It’s a bit of a mammoth task and it’s not quite finished, but we’ll soon have a figure for the size of colony and be able to see how they’re getting on.

The cliffs will only remain home to the seabirds until late summer so don’t miss your chance to see the amazing spectacle and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two!

Sally Dunbar

Reserves Intern

All photos: Sally Dunbar