The first kittiwake chick of this year was spotted yesterday (Sunday 26th June) through the cliff mounted camera which feeds live images directly to the RSPB Visitor Centre.

Kittiwake are a member of the gull family that lay two eggs in a deep cup shaped nest which they construct out of vegetation, such as grass, and mud. They construct their nests on steep cliffs around the UK coast.

kittiwake - Photo credit: Andy Hay (

Incubation takes on average four weeks. The chicks when hatched are light grey/white in appearance with fine downy feathers. They will be fed by both parents on a diet of regurgitated fish until able to fend for themselves. The chicks generally fledge the nest at around five weeks but will continue to be fed by parents for several weeks more.

Recently hatched kittiwake chick - Photo credit: Laura Shearer

Juvenile kittiwake are distinguishable by the black M shape formed on their upper wings whereas adult kittiwake have grey upper wings with solid black wing tips, often described as looking as if they had been dipped in a pot of ink.

Juvenile kittiwake - Photo credit: Mike Langman (

Kittiwake, although the most numerous of the gull family globally, as well as the UK, are for many people, the least known of the gulls. This is due to their oceanic lifestyle, spending most of the year out at sea. Outside their breeding season they occur across the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, rarely venturing further from the coast than the continental shelves but do at times appear in deeper waters.

Young kittiwake mature at around four years old and generally return to the colonies where they were born. They can frequently live in to their late teens.

They feed on a diet of sandeels, sprats, small mackerel and other small fish that they capture at the surface or by performing shallow plunge dives.

Kittiwake numbers have declined rapidly in recent years around the UK, largely due to a reduction in food availability.

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