Guide to Newquay and Cornwall

The Kittiwakes of Newquay Cornwall

kittiwakes_on_rock_470x312Newquay is famous for its beaches, surfing and buzzing holiday
atmosphere but there are other aspects of Cornwall's premier seaside
resort often overlooked, sometimes literally.

Situated just yards from one of the town's largest hotels tucked
away below the cliff edge is Cornwall's largest breeding colony of
kittiwakes. The colony nestles on the cliff below the Huer's Hut
that overlooks Newquay Bay and comprises some 1 200 breeding pairs
of one of our true seabirds. There has been enormous growth in their
numbers over the last hundred years since they were given legal
protection, before this century, the kittiwake was slaughtered for
sport and to provide feathers for Victorian ladies' hats.

They are smaller and more elegant than the chip thieving herring
gulls commonly seen around Newquay and in flight are buoyant and
graceful as they dice with the wave crests on a stormy day. They can
be distinguished from other gulls by their dark eyes, yellow green
bill and black legs. At Newquay the best time to see the birds is
during the breeding season between late March and early July.

During this time the birds occupy their cup-shaped nests, made of
moss, seaweed and other plant material, which they cement together
with considerable quantities of droppings. Each pair rear 2 or
sometimes 3 creamy white chicks that both parents feed during the 5
to 8 weeks that they spend in the nest. Outside f the breeding season
kittiwakes spend their time at sea feeding on small fish, squid and
shellfish that they take from the surface of the water.
By Gordon Burns

Publisher of the longest established (1997) on-line guide to Newquay, Cornwall UK http://www.newquayguide.co.uk

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