Thursday, 7 July 2016

Now is a great time to come to St Abb's Head to see the chicks as all of our seabirds, except the fulmars, have young at the moment. They are at all levels of development from recently hatched to on the verge of fledging, depending on the species and their breeding biology. Here's a few pics to give you a flavour. 

The shags are our first seabirds to lay eggs, but the chicks stay at the nest for longer than other species before they fledge. Some have fledged already and can be seen in gangs on rocks down towards the bottom of the cliffs (their plumage is brown rather than greeny-black). The chick in this shot are not quite there yet - pretty big, but still a lot of downy feathers. Look for shag nests toward the bottom of the cliffs, often on pretty wide ledges.

Herring gull chicks have amazing camouflage and if sitting still, are incredibly difficult to see. Look for herring gulls dotted in amongst the colony, or on the flat toped rocks around Horsecastle Bay.

Most of the guillemot chicks have jumped off the cliffs already, and the number of adults has thinned out a lot too. This makes the remaining chicks much easier to see, but don't delay, they won't be about for much longer! Look on the ledges with lots of birds that look a bit like penguins on them.

Razorbill chicks are very difficult to get shots of as razorbills tend to nest in crevices around the edge of the colony, and the chick is either hidden away in the crevice, or under the wing of a parent as in this shot - the bird on the left. But as they as pretty big at the moment, now if probably your best chance to see them. I will keep trying to get a decent shot!

The kittiwake chicks have just about all hatched now, and are big enough not to be hidden away under the adults. Look on the vertical cliff faces where they build their nests.

Fulmar are the most enigmatic of our seabirds - they sit and sit for ages, from February on till July, with nothing apparently happening. If you're in the right place at the right time, you might catch a glimpse of an egg, which are laid from late May. The chicks hatch in mid July, and so nows the time you might see some action! Look for fulmar dotted around the top and the edges of the colony.

Happy chick spotting! Liza.

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