Thursday 16th July comments: The seabird breeding season continues to march on and yesterday we had our first confirmed flying Kittiwake fledgling as a youngster was seen to take to the wing for the very first time.
Kittiwakes return to the Isle of May in late March and are incubating eggs from late April/early May. They lay on 1-2 eggs (very occasionally three) and both parents will incubate on average for 27 days. Kittiwake chicks are born precocial (the young are relatively mature and have the ability to be mobile from the moment of birth) and are downy and white in colour. This downy plumage will start to be replaced by feathering after just five days after hatching and will take approximately thirty-five days to fledgling stage.
The plumage of youngsters is distinct, as it has a black bill and black ‘W’ across its back and upper wings as you can see from the above photo. Chicks will come back to the nest for several weeks after hatching and will eventually follow the adults at sea where they spend the winter.
So there you have it, we have our first and over the next few weeks we will have plenty more. It’s an exciting time to be on the Island to witness birds leaving the impressive cliffsides and taking that big leap of faith into the unknown.