Fewer RSPB dates at kittiwake colony ruffles several feathers

Seaford kittiwakes
Seaford kittiwakes

THE RSPB has slashed the amount of time it will be spending in Seaford this summer as visitors flock to the area to see the popular kittiwake colony.

The organisation usually has staff and volunteers available at Splash Point for several weeks but will be at the viewpoint for just six days from June 28 until August 5 this year.

Last year the event A Date with Nature ran for six weeks in Seaford and the latest cut in dates has disappointed Seaford resident Mary Clarke who feels the colony is a major boost for tourism.

Ms Clarke, who has helped volunteer at the event, said, “This poor showing will be a loss for the town, as Seaford is a high spot for tourism in the summer and the Kittiwake Watch is a large part of the tourist scene.

“Last year I met many people from abroad who were appreciative of Splash Point and the views – including the birds, of course.

“If the RSPB can’t devote more time to this, for reasons of their own, then of course, their opportunities for yet more members and a heightened interest in the RSPB will suffer.

“We may have a hot summer yet, and I remember the disappointment on several days last summer when the RSPB failed to make an appearance.”

Fellow resident Bob Brown added, “I think it’s very disappointing, given just recently the pier has been repaired by Splash Point so we have a much safer environment for visitors.

“It’s disappointing that the RSPB has decided without apparently telling interested bodies they are not going to be there as often at Splash Point as they have been in the past.” Splash Point is home to one of the South east’s last remaining kittiwake colonies. It has become increasingly significant in recent years as the sea birds struggle to breed in strongholds along the coast of northern England, Scotland and Wales.

Declines of these larger colonies are thought to be connected with a lack of sand-eel fish in the seas around the sites.

This year RSPB staff and volunteers will be at Splash Point from 10am until 4.30pm on June 28, July 6, 18 and 25 and August 1 and 5, weather depending. A spokesperson for the RSPB said, “The project has been running for the last 10 years, and has been hugely successful with large numbers of people coming to visit.

“This year we are concentrating our activities around a few key dates during the breeding season when we know there will be fantastic viewing opportunities.

“On these dates we will be able to meet the maximum number of people and create a wonderful atmosphere and experience with which to show them these beautiful seabirds, explain the difficulties they, and many other species, are facing and how people can help them.”