I made a passing comment a couple of posts ago that the Kittiwakes would soon be back on Mumbles Pier and Jeremy kindly let me know that they already are!
The breeding colony on the pier is now well over twenty years old and is one of only a couple in the UK that is on a man-made structure. Of those this is the only one that is so easily accessible. For a mere fifty pence you get unlimited time with these charismatic birds at little more than arms length. The only challenge is trying not to repeat the same photos over and over and to avoid any flying hooks from the assembled fishermen (something with which I have seen the birds struggle in the past). It was low tide during my visit and warm which probably accounted for the rather sleepy nature of the vast majority of the birds. Here are a selection of my favourite shots from Saturday.
Last year I made several trips to the pier to try and document as much of the breeding cycle as possible. I missed the initial nest building stage but witnessed everything from eggs to fledging. The reason for this concerted effort was that the pier owners are currently trying to get planning permission for a complete redevelopment of the area (something which I support in general), including an almost wholesale replacement of the pier structure. I have looked through the documents that I can find on the internet and there is mention of a bird survey giving specific attention to the Kittiwakes as part of the proposal, but details on any work to minimise the impact on them is scant to say the least. I am not sure where the law lies with relation to disrupting a Kittiwake colony but I really hope that that the birds manage to tolerate the work and will be here for another twenty years at least. The Mumbles would be a lesser place without them and their distinctive voices.