I do love to see Kittiwakes although in Shetland numbers have dropped dramatically as sand eels have become scarce. Sumburgh for instance had around 3,000 breeding birds about 25 years ago now they are less than 300.
A study by M G Richardson in 1981 found 54,300 birds with Noss, Fair Isle, Foula (estimates from earlier years )
Its a complex food change, the food sandeels feed on Zooplankton has reduced by 70% and this is down to the sea warming which has also affected the food Zooplankton feed on - Phytoplankton which is blooming out of sync.
Kittiwake- Sandeel - Zooplankton - Phytoplankton
This is resulting in less sandeels, this complex system is not helped by the fact that nutrient poor warm water species are now replacing the cold water nutrient rich Zooplankton. In addition sandeels are now feeding deeper down in the ocean which give less feeding opportunities to birds such as Kittiwakes which feed near the surface
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