The counting of kittiwake chicks in nesting grounds on Snaefellsnes peninsula in west Iceland concluded on Monday with extremely poor results; only seven chicks were spotted in a total of 200 to 300 nests.
A seabird cliff in Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
In the average year it is to be expected that each kittiwake couple produces 1-1.5 chicks. Like the Arctic tern, the kittiwake feeds on sandeels and especially relies on the small fish to feed its chicks, Morgunbladid reports.
And as with the Arctic tern in many other regions in Iceland, it appears as if there has been a complete collapse in kittiwake nesting this year.
“It fits the situation of the Arctic tern; almost every chick had died by the beginning of this month. We have only seen a few chicks flying around occasionally—that’s all,” commented Jón Einar Jónsson, director of the University of Iceland Snaefellsnes Research Center, who conducted the kittiwake chick count along with his associate.
Many regions reported poor results from the Arctic tern nesting this year, also by Skjálfandi bay in northeast Iceland where only three chicks were spotted in a flock of a few hundred older birds. A few years back the bay was filled with chicks at this time of year.
The condition of many seabird stocks that nest along the Icelandic coastline is grim this year, especially in the southwestern region, as studies of the nesting grounds of puffins, Arctic terns and now kittiwakes have shown.
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